A Decade of Women's Leadership in Michigan Public Companies

Posted by Toni Somers

Sep 24

Inforum Center for Leadership released its 10th anniversary Michigan Women’s Leadership Index, a snapshot of the leadership role of women in Michigan’s top 100 public companies.

The 2013 Inform findings are disappointing – but unfortunately not unique. Similar results have been reported for other states – and for the nation as a whole. Our findings also mirror research in other developed nations.

Unlike their advancement in higher education where women now constitute over half of the nation’s college enrollment, women’s progress in the corporate sphere has been very slow indeed.

In 2003 -- the year Inforum conducted its first study of women in Michigan’s 100 largest public companies, Harvard Business Review complained that women remained under-represented in top corporate jobs.

This year, a decade later, the SEC has rued “the dismal lack of progress in increasing gender diversity in U.S. corporations”-- despite escalating evidence that “companies with a strong female representation at board and top management levels perform better than those without…”

The 2013 Inforum report provides evidence this is true. -- right here, close to home, in Michigan. Women during the last decade have made limited – and, in some cases no –progress in top corporate governance and leadership roles in the state.

This is a regrettable – but remedial – situation.

Michigan is home to many companies internationally acclaimed for otherwise enlightened and innovative management approaches—and, as our report highlights, several of them – including companies such as Kelly Services, Steelcase, General Motors, Compuware, DTE and Kellogg have made notable progress in moving toward gender balance in their boardrooms and executive suites.

In the management literature, “balance” has been referred to as approaching 40% or so gender equity. While only a few Michigan firms today have achieved close to that in their boards or top management teams, some are what the literature calls “tilted” -- at close to 30%. It’s our hope that by the next Inforum report in 2015 those companies and others will have “tilted” into “balance.”

Read the full report here:



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