19 October 2009

Study Finds Too Few Female Executives In Michigan

Crain's Detroit Business

Detroit-based Compuware Corp. is among the Inforum study's “most valuable players” in Michigan based on women holding trustee or top executive positions, including (from left) Lisa Elkin, vice president, marketing and communications; Tanya Heidelberg-Yopp, senior vice president, sales operations; Denise Starr, chief administrative officer; Laura Fournier, executive vice president and CFO; Janette Lollo, senior vice president, customer care; Kimberly King, vice president, channels and alliances; and Missy Root, senior vice president, recruiting, training and career development.

Michigan's top 100 public companies aren't tapping women as directors on their boards and top executives any more than they were six years ago, and that could be hurting the state's competitiveness, according to a new study.

The 2009 Women's Leadership Index, released by Inforum Center for Leadership, reports that women represent just 9.4 percent of the five highest-compensated officer positions at the state's largest public companies.

That's slightly higher than the 7.1 percent reported in 2003, the first year of the biennial index.

Of the total executive officers at Michigan's public companies, 10.5 percent are women, trailing the 2008 national average of 15.7 percent.

Likewise, just 9.6 percent of the trustees at those companies are women, according to the report, trailing the national average of 15.1 percent and ranking even with the first year of the study, issued six years ago.

Yet women represent 46.5 percent of the U.S. workforce and more than half of all management, professional or related occupations in the labor force as a whole, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey.

“This is a moment for Michigan and Southeast Michigan,” said Inforum CEO and President Terry Barclay. “What better time is there going to be to build our next economy the way it should be built? There are talented women, and now is the time.”

The newly released index, which was researched by the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University, is available at www.inforummichigan.org.

“Michigan's low percentage of women in key roles at its largest public companies does not bode well for the state's work to attract and retain talent,” Barclay said.

The National Center for Educational Statistics projects that during the 2008-09 academic year, women will earn 58 percent of all bachelor's degrees in the U.S., 60 percent of all master's degrees and 50 percent of advanced degrees in areas such as law and medicine. “What message does it send to the talented young women graduating from our institutions when they see few role models at the top of the companies that are their chosen industries?” Barclay asked. “Young people make those kinds of judgments when they look at companies.”

The prevalence of women of color in top positions at Michigan's largest public companies is even lower. Just 11 women of color, or 1.3 percent, are directors, and only four, or less than 1 percent, hold executive positions, according to the study.

Yet there is much research to support that there are business advantages to having more women in key roles, according to a September 2008 study by Minneapolis-based McKinsey & Co. Inc., a global research and consulting firm that counts among its clients more than 70 percent of the companies on Fortune magazine's most-admired list.

Research in Europe and the U.S. suggests that companies with several senior-level women tend to perform better financially, McKinsey said in the report, while hiring and retaining women at all levels also enlarges a company's pool of talent at a time when shortages are appearing throughout industries.

Having more women and more diversity among key decision makers helps companies avoid “group think” patterns that lead to bad decisions, Barclay said.

Interestingly, having more women in key roles also improves workplace conditions not just for women, but for men, Barclay sad.

“One of the common concerns companies have is (that) women will drop out for child-care reasons, but it turns out work/life balance issues are important to men, too.”

The Women's Leadership Index did have a few bright spots. For the first time, there are three female CEOs among the 100 largest companies, up from just one — Kathleen Ligocki, formerly at Tower Automotive — in past years.

Those women are: Cathleen Nash at Flint-based Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc.; Susan Eno at CNB Corp., Cheboygan; and Karen Clark at Green Energy Live Inc., Wyoming. CNB and Green Energy are among seven of the study's “most valuable players” in Michigan, as is Detroit-based Compuware Corp., based on the number of women holding trustee or top executive positions.

Compuware has two women on its board — former Marygrove College President Glenda Price and Faye Nelson, president of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy — plus Laura Fournier serving as executive vice president and CFO, and Denise Starr serving as chief administrative officer.

It also has five women heading up various operational units: Lisa Elkin, vice president, marketing and communications; Tanya Heidelberg-Yopp, senior vice president, sales operations; Kimberly King, vice president, channels and alliances; Janette Lollo, senior vice president, customer care; and Missy Root, senior vice president, recruiting, training and career development.

A diversity committee of Compuware's board of directors does a lot of education with key executives in the company “to make sure we're aware of the strengths of a diverse group — both gender and ethnicity — because our employees and customers are diverse,” said COO and President Bob Paul.

“The leadership team here is a very strong reflection of the type of people we have employed and the type we try to deliver value to: customers,” he said.

Additionally, “when you have women in leadership positions ... across your organization, it also helps drive hiring that's reflective of that leadership team.”

Women are responsible for 83 percent of household purchases and are forming new businesses nationally and in Michigan at two times the rate of men, Barclay said.

“They are your future supplier, clients and partners,” she said.

Now more than ever, “it's important to get beyond tokenism and to have more than one woman on the board or in the executive ranks.”

1 comment:

emarks said...


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