New report finds lack of gender diversity puts Michigan companies at competitive disadvantage

Inforum Center for Leadership calls for action on gender diversity; top executives, directors of Michigan’s top 100 public companies remain overwhelmingly male - full results of Michigan Women’s Leadership Index to be released Oct. 21

by Geoff Larcom, Published October 23, 2009

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Detroit — As Michigan continues to re-tool and reinvent its economy, professional women remain an under-utilized resource, according to the results of Inforum Center for Leadership’s 2009 Michigan Women’s Leadership Index (WLI), released today.

As with past editions of the index, the numbers show that Michigan companies have not utilized women’s leadership to gain a competitive advantage. For example, women hold just 56 of 533 (10.5%) executive positions in the top 100 public companies in Michigan.

Based on the results or the 2009 WLI, Inforum Center for Leadership is issuing its Call for Action, built around 10 Things Companies Should Do Now and 10 Ways Michigan Women Can Rev up Their Careers. The Call for Action is available online at this link: https://www.inforummichigan.org/Documents/CMS_docs/Call_for_action.pdf

Inforum thinks it is time for Michigan’s top companies to join those corporations that are leading the way toward greater gender diversity at the very top. It’s also time for our state’s professional women to re-think and reinvent their careers, raise their sights and expect more from themselves and their organizations.  Why is action needed? Because Michigan corporations can’t afford to fall behind the curve at a time women are on the verge of becoming the majority of the U.S. paid workforce and wield unprecedented economic power.

“Research shows there is a strong correlation between how well top corporations develop and promote women leaders and how successful those corporations are in the marketplace,” said Terry Barclay, CEO of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership. “If Michigan’s companies lag behind when it comes to utilizing talented women, they could be at a big disadvantage compared to their peers and competitors. One big reason for this is that women are their biggest customers, accounting for the majority of consumer purchase decisions in our consumer-oriented economy.” 

And it’s not just Inforum that thinks so. In its recent “Groundbreakers” report, the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young brings together research that makes clear the case for more women leaders in business. For instance, the report cites data from Goldman Sachs that found closing the gap between male and female employment rates could boost US GDP by as much as 9 percent, Eurozone GDP by 13 percent and Japanese GDP by 16 percent.

In September 2008, a report published by McKinsey & Company provided solid evidence that the gender gap at U.S. companies is much more than just an image or public relations problem. McKinsey researchers wrote that their extensive research finds that gender diversity “can have real implications for company performance.” For that reason, McKinsey found, leading companies such as JPMorgan Chase have taken pro-active steps to move more women to the tops of their organizations.

McKinsey found that companies “with three or more women on their senior-management teams scored higher on all nine organizational criteria than did companies with no senior-level women.” In addition, the research shows, putting more women into the pipeline for top jobs now could ease future pressure on companies that might otherwise face a mismatch between the skills they need and the availability of trained talent.

First published in 2003, the WLI is a one-of-a-kind bi-annual survey that looks at women board members and senior executives at the 100 largest publicly held corporations headquartered in Michigan (the “Michigan Index 100”).  The study was commissioned by Inforum Center for Leadership, the non-profit education and research arm of Inforum, Michigan’s largest network for professional women.  The research for the 2009 WLI was conducted by the Eastern Michigan University College of Business.

Why Michigan Needs to Change: It’s in the Numbers
As in past editions of the WLI, the numbers show that the executive suites and board rooms of Michigan’s top 100 public companies remain overwhelmingly male-dominated. 

Among the results from the 2009 WLI:

  • Only Compuware Corp. has been listed in the best-performing Most Valuable Player category since the inception of the WLI.
  • More than half of the Michigan Index 100 companies have at least one woman director. However, women hold a mere 9.6% (83) of the total 866 board seats in the 2009 Michigan top 100 companies, virtually the same percentage they held in all prior WLI reports.
  • In Michigan’s Fortune 500 companies, women hold 31 of 192 board seats (16.1%). This is an improvement over the 2007 rate of 14.3%.
  • Only 41 women executives – 9.4% of the 435 total – are among the highest five compensated in their companies; three of them among the 19 Michigan Fortune 500 companies.
  • Women hold 56 of 533 (10.5%) executive positions in the state’s top 100 public companies.
  • Three companies in the WLI Top 100 have woman CEOs. That is an improvement from 2007, when none of the Top 100 had a woman CEO.
  • Real Estate companies in Michigan’s 2009 Top 100 have the highest average index scores (8.3), while Automotive (2.1) and Non-Automotive Manufacturing (2.2) companies have the lowest average index scores.

“While it is heartening to see some progress, such as in the number of female CEOs, clearly there is a lot of progress to be made,” Barclay said. “But at a time when women hold roughly half of payroll jobs in the United States, their representation at the leadership of the state’s top public companies does not come close to representing the significance of women to the U.S. economy.”

David E. Mielke, Ph.D., Dean, College of Business, Eastern Michigan University and one of the authors of the 2009 WLI report, said the Index should serve as an important benchmark as the Michigan business community works to transform Michigan’s economy in ways that encourage greater innovation and opportunity for all sectors of the workforce.

“Our partnership with Inforum is an important part of our commitment to the business community,” Mielke said. “This study is just one element of our work to raise the awareness of the opportunities for women and the critical role they play in the transformation of the Michigan economy.  We applaud Inforum for its leadership as well as those companies that also recognize the vital role women play in our future.”

“We know the strategic benefits of diversity, yet so few Michigan companies take advantage of this by placing women in key leadership positions,” said Megan Endres, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management, Eastern Michigan University and lead researcher for the 2009 WLI. “Women corporate leaders are a key resource that remains dormant. Michigan's corporate leaders should use the Index to study their competitors - which have women executives? Women directors? These are the competitors who are building a unique strategic resource to compete against you.”

WLI Results Revealed, Discussed at Oct. 21 Events
The full results of the 2009 Michigan Women’s Leadership Index will be revealed and discussed at Oct. 21 events in Grand Rapids and Dearborn, with the generous support of presenting sponsor Ernst & Young and co-sponsor Sprint/Nextel. Each event will feature a keynote address by Claire Shipman, co-author of the best-selling book “Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success” and senior national correspondent for ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Shipman will discuss why companies with more senior female managers make more money and how promoting more women can help corporations outperform the competition by as much as 116 percent.

  • The Grand Rapids event will be held from 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Frederik Meijer Gardens, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE.
  • The Dearborn event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton, 300 Town Center Drive.

Register for the Oct. 21 events on the calendar at www.inforummichigan.org  or call 877.633.3500.

About Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership
Inforum (formerly the Women‘s Economic Club) is one of the largest and most prestigious business forums in the nation, with over 2,000 members from a broad cross-section of Michigan’s business community.  Providing opportunities for businesswomen to connect, forge alliances, discuss vital civic and business issues, and advance as leaders is at the heart of Inforum’s mission. Inforum’s programming includes networking events featuring prominent local, national, and international speakers; interactive skill-building seminars; and a variety of after-hours interest groups.

Inforum Center for Leadership accelerates careers through unique leadership development programs that allow women to challenge themselves, take risks, and reach the next level.  Current programs include:  Executive Leadership, an intense, highly personalized and interactive six-month leadership development program; Leadership at the Maxx!, which allows participants to experience real-world business challenges without the real-world consequences for failure; and the Senior Executives Forum, a confidential, peer-to-peer business roundtable for top women executives.

Inforum Center for Leadership also conducts and publishes research on women’s leadership influence in Michigan.  More about Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership may be found on the worldwide web:  www.inforummichigan.org.

About the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University
The College of Business at Eastern Michigan University has been recognized as one of the “Best Business Schools” by the Princeton Review since 2004.  The College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-International.  Only about 30 percent of business schools in the U.S. have this prestigious distinction.  For more information about the college and its many programs, visit www.cob.emich.edu.

Complete copies of the 2009 Women’s Leadership Index Report are available at www.inforummichigan.org.

NOTE TO EDITORS:  One representative from each media outlet covering the event is welcome to attend the luncheon at no charge.  To register for media credentials, contact James Melton, Inforum Communications Manager, W: 313.578.3244 C: 313.580.8423; Email: Jmelton@inforummichigan.org .

Geoff Larcom

glarcom@emich.edu

734.487.4400

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