Indian-origin business leaders are reaching the pinnacle of corporate success in greater numbers than ever, many use their platforms for social change advocacy, said Indiaspora, a nonprofit organisation of global Indian diaspora leaders from various backgrounds and professions.
The Indiaspora Business Leaders List of 58 executives head companies headquartered across 11 different countries, including the US, Canada, England, and Singapore and these companies have delivered annualised returns of 23 per cent during the tenure of these executives, outperforming the S&P 500 by 10 per cent.
These companies collectively employ more than 3.6 million worldwide and account for a combined $1 trillion in revenue and $4 trillion in market capitalisation.
“We wanted to capture this incredible feat that our community is achieving with increasing numbers,” said Indiaspora founder MR Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and investor.
“The impact that the Indian diaspora is having in the realm of business is remarkable. It’s one of the reasons we launched this project, and we hope our lists will continue to raise the profile of those who have reached the very top of their fields while also serving as agents for positive change,” Rangaswami said.
The stereotype of the Indian CEO is someone who represents the tech sector, but this list of 58 CEOs dispels that myth, he said, adding that these leaders represent many different sectors, including banking, electronics, consumer goods, and consulting. Releasing the list during a virtual press conference, Rangaswami said that these executives are as young as 37, all the way to age 74 with the median age of these executives being 54.
During this coronavirus pandemic, these companies have made lots of humanitarian aid contributions, and also, they’re taking care of their employees, their customers, their supply chain.
“So these companies are doing a lot to respond to COVID-19,” Rangaswami said.
Many of the executives on the list have taken an active position on issues like Black Lives Matter in making sure that they also stand along with the black community in terms of getting racial equality and racial justice, he said.
The list of Indian-origin CEOs includes immigrants from India as well as professionals born in countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, England, and the US.
“I’m amazed to see how far we’ve come in terms of representation in business,” said Raj Gupta, former CEO of Fortune 300 company Rohm and Haas, and one of the first executives of the Indian diaspora to join the ranks of corporate leadership along with pioneers such as Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Dinesh Paliwal of Harman International.
“There used to be only a handful of us leading corporations. Now that we are reaching prominence, I am eager to see how the next generation leaves its own legacy,” said Gupta, an Indiaspora member, who serves as Chairman of two companies on the Business Leaders List, Aptiv and Avantor.
“It’s inspiring to see so many leaders of Indian heritage playing a significant role in business and in society,” said Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard.
“Our culture and our values are a common starting point. But it’s what we do with the opportunities presented to us that make a difference. When we lean into our diverse experiences to deal with challenges like the pandemic or racial injustice, we can have an even greater impact on the lives of those around us,” he said.
Indiaspora said that many of these diaspora executives have led their companies in advancing social change by addressing racial injustice, climate and sustainability justice, and the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 through policy and financial commitments.
Tech industry leader Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, has announced new goals for racial equity, including improving leadership representation of underrepresented groups at Google, and an “economic opportunity package” for the Black community. Many of the leaders’ companies have created or contributed funds in response to COVID-19, with monetary and humanitarian aid totalling more than $400 million, Indiaspora said.
The Indiaspora Business Leaders List also calls attention to the presence of a glass ceiling that women, including Indian women, still face. Out of 1,000 companies represented on the Fortune 500 list, only 61 have women CEOs; the Indiaspora List has a marginally higher percentage of women, yet includes only five women out of the 58 leaders.
“It’s an honour to join so many outstanding leaders on this year’s Indiaspora Business Leaders list, each of whom is making a meaningful impact within their industry,” said Reshma Kewalramani, MD, CEO and President of Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
“As a physician and CEO dedicated to creating transformative medicines that improve the lives of people with serious diseases, I believe deeply in the critical role a diverse and inclusive culture plays in being able to achieve that mission at Vertex,” she said.
In Video:58 Indian-origin executives account for $1 trillion in revenue, employ over 3.6 million globally