2015 Michigan Women’s Leadership Report

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Inforum Center for Leadership has released its 2015 Michigan Women's Leadership Report, a snapshot of the leadership role of women in Michigan's top 100 public companies. The Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University conducted the research for a second consecutive installment of the biennial report.

The press release announcing the 2015 findings led with this headline and subheadline:

Women's Leadership in Top Michigan Companies Stagnates
Women's presence on company boards declines as board and company size diminish

In 2015, women occupy 11.5 percent of boardroom seats in the state's top 100 public companies—their share down slightly from 11.6 percent since 2013. Women's representation among the top earners in their companies has declined from 9.6 percent two years ago to 8 percent in 2015. And women today hold 13 percent of executive officer positions—exactly their share in 2013.

"The stagnation of women's leadership in the highest ranks of Michigan's 100 public companies seems unthinkable given the proliferation of dialogue on this very topic both nationally and globally," said Terry A. Barclay, president and CEO of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership. "Inforum is committed to helping companies move from a conversation on why to a call-to-action on how."

Among the top findings of the Michigan Women's Leadership Report:

  • Women are entirely absent as executive officers, board directors and top earners in nearly one-third of Michigan's top 100 public companies. Only 17 companies have at least one woman director, officer and top-five compensated officer—earning triple checks for the presence of women in all three categories.

  • For the first time, at least one woman is seated on the board at all Michigan Fortune 500 companies. Twenty-one percent of the board seats at Michigan Fortune 500 companies are held by women—up from 17.4 percent two years ago. Compared to female presence on the boards of all Fortune 500 companies across the country, Michigan leads slightly (21 percent versus 19 percent). General Motors Company and Kellogg Company stand out with five women directors each on their boards.

  • Women's share of executive officer positions is lowest in Tier II companies. Companies with market capitalization of at least $100 million (includes nine Fortune 501 – 1000) have a total of 304 executive officers—nearly half of all 604 executive officer positions in Michigan's top 100 public companies. Just 32 women hold these executive officer positions (10.5 percent) with Steelcase, Inc. as the exception with three women executive officers. Since 2013, women's share of executive officer positions rose in Fortune 500 companies by 3 percent. For the first time, one company (Kelly Services, Inc.) has four women executive officers.

  • There are no women top earners in 70 percent of Michigan's largest 100 public companies. While the gross number of top-five compensated officers in the state's largest 100 companies has increased by one since 2013 (417 versus 418), the percentage of women in that cohort has dropped. Women's representation among the top earners in their companies has declined from 9.6 percent two years ago to 8 percent in 2015. This year, 33 women were cited in SEC filings as among the five highest-paid executives in their companies compared to 40 in 2013 and 31 in 2003. Thirty of the 100 companies in this year's study had a woman among their Named Executive Officers (NEOs), compared to 35 in 2013.

  • Male candidates are favored for board vacancies. Men claimed nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of new independent director vacancies at Michigan Fortune 500 companies. Twenty-six men and nine women joined the boards of 16 companies. (One company did not add new directors). Three of the nine (33 percent) were women of color. Two companies—Kellogg Company and CMS Energy Corporation—added two women each to their boards, bringing women's representation at those companies to 38 percent (five of 13) and 27 percent (three of 12) respectively. For Michigan Tier II public companies, there is almost a 5 to 1 preference for men versus women directors. Thirty-five of the 45 companies in Tier II elected 70 new independent directors between 2013 and 2015—83 percent were men (58 men) and 17 percent were women (12).

"The results of this research fuel our already avid commitment to guiding and mentoring women students to compete for senior corporate roles and leadership positions," said Robert Forsythe, dean, Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

About Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership: Founded in 1962, Inforum is the only professional organization in Michigan—and one of a few in the country—that combines strategic connections, proven professional development programs, a respected forum for new ideas, and original research to accelerate careers for women and boost talent initiatives for companies. Inforum Center for Leadership (ICL) is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit education and research arm of Inforum. ICL programs serve a broad range of women in different stages and types of careers—from nonprofit professionals, to emerging and rising corporate leaders, tech entrepreneurs, Veterans and corporate board leaders. Inforum Center for Leadership also conducts and publishes original research on women's leadership influence. For more information, visit inforummichigan.org or call 877.633.3500.


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