LEAP’s Linda Akutagawa Testifies at House Financial Services Committee on “Diversity in the Boardroom: Examining Proposals to Increase the Diversity of America’s Boards

A Message from Linda Akutagawa

Dear Friends,

I had an exciting day yesterday! I was invited to testify at a hearing of the full House Financial Services Committee in Washington, D.C. on the topic of “Diversity in the Boardroom: Examining Proposals to Increase the Diversity of America’s Boards.”

I was there speaking as the Chair of the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) of which LEAP is one of the partner members along with Catalyst, the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR). Together with our advisor, Diversified Search, we’re advocating to increase the representation and inclusion of Asian and Pacific Islanders, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and women on corporate boards. But I most certainly showed up as the President & CEO of LEAP too!

There was an interestingly large amount of interest in the topic – more than I expected, I’ll confess. The hearing room was standing room only and so packed that they had to set up another viewing room for overflow.

There were five of us invited to present on different aspects of diversity on corporate boards. During the Q & A portion of the hearing, several of the Congress members asked questions specific to the Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities. Over the course of the hearing, it became abundantly clear that there was no interest or concern about the still low numbers of Asian and Pacific Islanders or in increasing the number of Asian or Pacific Islanders on corporate boards and executive leadership. Beyond just my physical presence to remind those in attendance that our community has a strong interest in this topic, I’m proud that I was able to speak up, and at times, correct the misperceptions about Asian Americans. 

If you’re curious or interested in what I presented to the Committee, you can read the text of my oral testimony or view the video recording of the hearing.  I can be found at the 32:27 and 1:24:41 marks.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 (10:00 AM) — Committee on Financial Services Hearing: "Diversity in the Boardroom: Examining Proposals to Increase the Diversity of America's Boards"


 https://financialservices.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=40327834

While there have been efforts to discuss this in Congress over the years, I believe it is going to gain traction and this hearing was just the start. We’ll continue to monitor what will be happening and I will most certainly be looking for opportunities to ensure that an API voice is included and heard in these discussions. 

Thanks for your support of LEAP. 

All the best,

Linda

Akira Nakano