Do Asian Americans Have Real Clout in America? How many Asian American CEOs, Politicians and Billionaires?
“The doctor added $200 million to his fortune over the last year as he sold Abraxis BioScience to Celgene for $2.9 billion in October 2010. He’s pledged half of his fortune to charity, joining the Bill Gates-Warren Buffett Giving Pledge initiative: “Growing up in South Africa … we had direct experience of inequality.” His father was a village doctor in China; family immigrated to South Africa during WWII. Finished high school at 16; doctor by 23. Took American Pharmaceutical Partners public 2001. Launched cancer treatment Abraxane 2005; drug more potent, with fewer side effects than treatments then available.”
This is how to be doctor with clout!
I digress, this is actually want I wanted to talk about:
The NY Magazine has a really excellent series of posts called Paper Tigers. This particular post grabbed my attention:
This was the paragraph that got me thinking:
“Earlier this year, the publication of Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother incited a collective airing out of many varieties of race-based hysteria. But absent from the millions of words written in response to the book was any serious consideration of whether Asian-Americans were in fact taking over this country. If it is true that they are collectively dominating in elite high schools and universities, is it also true that Asian-Americans are dominating in the real world? My strong suspicion was that this was not so, and that the reasons would not be hard to find. If we are a collective juggernaut that inspires such awe and fear, why does it seem that so many Asians are so readily perceived to be, as I myself have felt most of my life, the products of a timid culture, easily pushed around by more assertive people, and thus basically invisible?”
Are we successful in the real sense? Powerful? In charge? Possessing political clout?
I thought I would do a little digging around …
Asian American CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies
This is from Diversity, Inc.
Seven Fortune 500 CEOs are Asian, including two women of color. They are:
- Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
- Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup
- Ramani Ayer, Hartford Financial Services
- Andrea Jung, Avon Products
- Rajiv L. Gupta, Rohm and Haas
- Surya N. Mohapatra, Quest Diagnostics
- Jerry Yang, Yahoo!
7/500= .014 or 1.4% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.
What is the takeaway here? If you are an Asian American MALE and not of Indian descent, you pretty much have no role model in corporate America. Don’t waste your time climbing the ladder, start your own company. See below for inspiration, Forbes 400 Wealthiest Americans.
Asian Americans in Politics
I located 48 Asian Americans of Chinese descent in politics. 48 of Japanese descent. 16 recent Korean American politicians with recent wins (which seems correct because I found 15 here). 13 of Vietnamese descent. 38 of Indian descent.
OK. I did not look up every Asian American ethnicity, but I think you see a pattern here?! Not so much, right?
So many the would-be Asian American politicians need to hook up with the Asian American Über Wealthy. No, seriously. Political clout = financial backing.
Asian American Über Wealthy
So here’s another measure of power: big money. How are we faring? I’m using Forbes 400 Wealthiest for this.
Patrick Soon-Shiong clocks in at #46 with $5.2 billion
Roger Wang at #69 with $4.2 billion
David Sun at #136 with $2.6 billion
John Tu at #136 with $2.6 billion
Barat Desai #252 with$1.6 billion
Min Kao #269 with $1.5 billion
Romesh Wadhwani #290 with $1.4 billion
James Kim #308 with $1.3 billion
Vinod Khosla #308 at $1.3 billion
Jerry Yang #356 with $1.15 billion
10/400= .025 or 2.5%. Actually, this was more than I expected. I guess many of these billionaires keep a low profile.
My takeaway from this little sleuthing exercise is this: you best and brightest Asian Americans out there, Fortune 500 is no place for you. True, it could be a good training ground and there are promises of fast tracking to upper management, but you will have better odds of becoming a billionaire than becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Seriously, do the math. It’s true. Take action and start your own company instead or work for a start up that perhaps has a chance to go super nova. When an Asian American becomes President of the United States, that is probably when it’s safe to pursue the Fortune 500 CEO route here in the U.S.A.
What do YOU think? Do Asian Americans have real clout? Why or why not? Please chime in!