Sunday, July 08, 2012

How Many Pacific Islander Executive Officers work at Fortune 500 Companies?

Recently, LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc.) published a study on Asian and Pacific Islander representation among the Executive Officers and top earners at Fortune 500 companies (America's 500 largest companies, ranked by revenue). In promoting the report, LEAP focused on their finding that Asians and Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in the executive boardrooms of the largest, wealthiest companies.

Specifically, they determined that only 2 percent of the executives and top earners at Fortune 500 were Asian or Pacific Islander.

Those of who regularly read our blog could guess my first question: of that 2 percent, how many were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander? Is this one of those studies where we can't answer that question, because the organization or researcher didn't bother to distinguish between Pacific Islanders and Asians?

LEAP didn't just distinguish between Pacific Islanders and Asians; actually they went one step further.  If you read their report (available here), you'll see that they break down exactly which Asian sub groups and Pacific Islander sub groups were included in that 2 percent (99 top executives total). Here are the figures:
  • Asian Indian: 51
  • Chinese: 24
  • Korean: 11
  • Japanese: 8
  • Pakistani: 2
  • Vietnamese: 2
  • Filipino: 1

Description: 2011_LEAP_FORTUNE500_Figure5.jpg

Don't see any Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders? That's because they didn't find any. According to this study, there are no Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander executive officers or top earners working for the Fortune 500.

That's not to say that Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders aren't founding and running successful businesses across the nation.  Census data shows that between 2002 and 2007, the number of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander-run businesses grew by over 30 percent. During the same five-year-period, the value of theses businesses grew by over 50 percent.

This mix of evidence suggests -- at least to me -- that Pacific Islanders are starting, managing, and growing businesses in the U.S., but this is happening on the small-businesses level.  As for the biggest businesses (at least the biggest 500), Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are woefully, and completely, unrepresented.

  • Here's a link to the LEAP report: LINK
  • And here's the Census report on Pacific Islander American businesses: LINK

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