Nearly one in three of the 400 largest public companies headquartered in California -- including Apple, Callaway Golf and Skechers USA -- have no women at the top, according to a study reported today by University of California, Davis, researchers. At the other end of the spectrum, five firms, led by the Los Angeles-based Nara Bancorp, have women in 35% to 46% of their top posts.
The third annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders found that 122 of the 400 surveyed companies -- 30.5% -- listed no women executives or board members in their annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Telecommunications, electronics and semiconductors were the most male-dominated industries. Silicon Valley and Orange County had the highest concentrations of male-dominated firms.
"Too many board rooms and executive suites in California still look more like 1957 than 2007 in terms of gender equity. And we've seen no real change in three years," said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, dean of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, which conducted the study in partnership with the Palo Alto-based Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives. "At a time when public companies are suffering from lapses in corporate governance and failures in leadership, they cannot afford to ignore the talent and perspective available in half the population and close to half the work force."
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Leading the state in gender diversity was a Los Angeles-based firm, Nara Bancorp, which serves consumers and minority-owned businesses through nearly 20 branches in Korean districts in California and New York. Nearly half -- 46.2% -- of the firm's executive and board seats are held by women.
"We have created a culture where people know that those who are aggressive and deliver will rise to the top, regardless of age, gender or other factors," said Min Jung Kim, president, CEO and board director of Nara Bancorp. "That culture attracts and allows us to keep top talent, and is at the root of our company's success."