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Nara Bank No. 1 for female execs

The Koreatown lender leads in California, with women in 5 of 6 top positions.

November 17, 2008|Lori Kozlowski | Kozlowski is a Times staff writer.

For the second consecutive year, Koreatown's Nara Bank topped a survey that ranked California businesses on the number of women in leadership positions.

Five of Nara's top six executive officers are women, including Chief Executive Min Jung Kim. Two women sit on the eight-member board of its holding company, Nara Bancorp Inc.

"We believe that top talent and diversity go hand in hand," Kim said. "Having a tightknit management staff that shares the same vision is also a key factor."

The bank's first-place finish came in UC Davis' fourth annual "Study of California Women Business Leaders," which described a "bleak picture of the progress of women in corporate leadership."

The report, which will be released today, surveyed the 400 largest publicly traded companies in California and found that women held only 10.9% of the board seats and executive officer positions. Moreover, the study found that nearly half the companies had no female executive officers.

The study said progress in getting more women into the executive suite had been negligible over the last year.

The survey's director, Nicole Woolsey Biggart, said it would be interesting to see how female executives fared as the nation's economic downturn continued.

"It could go one of two ways," said Biggart, dean of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. "Fear leads people to do the tried and true. Alternatively, I can see companies going, 'Look, this isn't working. Let's diversify the talent pool.' I hope it's the latter."

Biggart said it was not surprising to see Nara Bank at No. 1 again.

"Having women in charge seems to open the door for other women," she said. "It's like having a diversified stock portfolio. You wouldn't have a diverse portfolio and then say, 'No, I only want one kind of stock.' "

After Nara, makeup company Bare Escentuals Inc. of San Francisco ranks No. 2. Retailer Bebe Stores Inc. of Brisbane was No. 3., AMN Healthcare Services Inc. of San Diego came in at No. 4, and retailer Hot Topic Inc. of the City of Industry was ranked No. 5.

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lori.kozlowski@latimes.com

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