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Asians Underrepresented on Fortune 500 Company Boards: Report

Arun Sarin, the former CEO of Vodafone.
  • United States

    Despite the fact that Asians and Pacific Islanders in 2010 comprised six percent of the total U.S. population, they held just 2.4 percent of the seats on the boards of directors of Fortune 500 companies in 2011. 

    In addition, 77.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies in 2011 did not have a single Asian or Pacific Islander on their boards.

    These are two of the findings in a report released March 20 by Los Angeles, Calif.-based Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics.
    According to the report, just 116 Asian and Pacific Islanders, including a smattering of foreign-based executives, held 135 board seats on the Fortune 500 firms in 2011.
    The ethnic breakdown of API directors was: Chinese (45), Asian Indian (37), Japanese (17), Korean (6), Pakistani (3), Vietnamese (3), Bangladeshi (1), Filipino (1), Malaysian (1), Singaporean (1) and Sri Lankan (1).
    Two Indian Americans tied for the most board seats — three. They were former US Airways Group CEO Rakesh Gangwal, who sits on the boards of CarMax, OfficeMax and PetSmart; and former AirTouch president and COO and former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, who is a board member at Safeway, Cisco Systems and Charles Schwab.
    Four Indian board members are based in India or Europe: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani; London, U.K.-based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal; Tata Group’s Ratan N. Tata; and Mallika Srinivasan, head of Chennai-based Tractors and Farm Equipment.
    Eighteen API directors, including nine Indian Americans, held the titles of president, chair/vice chair or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
    They were: Ajay S. Banga, president/CEO, MasterCard; Franciso D’Souza, president/CEO, Cognizant Technology Solutions; Gangwal, chairman, OfficeMax; Sanjay Mehrotra, president/CEO, San Disk; Surya Mohapatra, CEO/chairman/president, Quest Diagnostics; Lakshmi Narayanan, vice chairman, Cognizant; Indra K. Nooyi, chairman/CEO, PepsiCo; Vikram Pandit, chairman/CEO, Citigroup; and Ravichandra K. Saligram, CEO/president, OfficeMax.
    There were three Indian women who held board seats on the Fortune 500: Srinivasan, who sits on the AGCO board; PepsiCo’s Nooyi; and Sara S. Mathew, a Campbell Soup Co. board member.
    The three Pakistani board seats were held by former Schering-Plough chairman and CEO Fred Hassan, who sits on the board at Avon Products and Time Warner; and S.M. Hassan, a board member of Whole Foods Market.
    Sri Lankan Sanchayan Ratnathicam is a board member of Franklin Resources, and Rima Qureshi, an executive at Stockholm-based Ericsson, is the lone Bangladeshi on a Fortune 500 board.
    Qureshi is a board member at MasterCard, which had four APIs on its board, more than any other company in the Fortune 500.
    There were 21 Fortune 500 firms with two API directors: Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo, PepsiCo, Best Buy, Safeway, Cisco Systems, Morgan Stanley, Staples, Aramark, Edison International, Avon Products, Synnex, OfficeMax, AECOM Technology, Yahoo, Mattel, Targa Resources, Agilent Technologies, SunGard Data Systems, SanDisk and Cognizant Technology Solutions. 
    Partial funding for the report was provided by AT&T — one of the Fortune 500 firms with no Asian or Pacific Islander on its board.
    “It is our hope that this issue will be critically addressed and be seen as a crucial part of understanding our country's full potential in an increasingly globalized world," said LEAP president and CEO Linda Akutagawa.
    The Asian Indian board members, with their board affiliation and the company’s 2010 revenue rank in parentheses were: Raj K. Agrawal, Dollar General (188); Mukesh D. Ambani, Bank of America Corp. (9); Ken Baksi, World Fuel Services (133); Shumeet Banerji, Hewlett-Packard (11); Ajaypal S. Banga, Kraft Foods (49), MasterCard (410); Jagjeet S. Bindra, Edison International (198); Srikant M. Datar, Stryker (323); Dinyar S. Devitre, Western Union (431); Francisco D’Souza, Cognizant Technology Solutions (484); Rakesh Gangwal, CarMax (311), OfficeMax (330), PetSmart (400); Raj K. Gupta, Consol Energy (428); Rajiv L. Gupta, Hewlett-Packard (11); Mohanbir S. Gyani, Safeway (60); Dipak C. Jain, Deere (98); Rajive Johri, ConAgra Foods (200); Vyomesh I. Joshi, Yahoo (365); Tarun Khanna, AES (150); Sanjay Khosla, Best Buy (47); Sara S. Mathew, Campbell Soup (312); Arjun Mathrani, Principal Financial (268); Sanjeev K. Mehra, SunGard Data Systems (434); Sanjay Mehrotra, SanDisk (468); Lakshmi Mittal, Goldman Sachs Group (54); Surya N. Mohapatra, Quest Diagnostics (320); Lakshmi Narayanan, Cognizant Technology Solutions (484); Shantanu Narayen, Dell (41); Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo (43); Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup (14); Vasant M. Prabhu Mattel (392); Venkata Rajamannar Madabhushi, PPL (280); Ravichandra K. Saligram, OfficeMax (330); Arun Sarin, Safeway (60), Cisco Systems (62), Charles Schwab (491); Kavitark Ram Shriram, Google (92); Mallika Srinivasa, AGCO (340); Ratan N. Tata, Alcoa (123); Hatim A. Tyabji, Best Buy; and Vijay Vishwanath, Staples (108).
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