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Few women in top corporate positions in Michigan

Wayne State University

Twenty eight of Michigan's top 100 public companies have no women as directors, executive officers, or in the ranks of the five highest-paid employees. Even among companies with women in top positions, the numbers are small, and the rate of change glacial.

That's according to a report recently released by the Inforum Center for Leadership in Michigan. The report was co-authored by two officers of Inforum and two faculty members at Wayne State University's School of Business Administration.

The report says that in 2013 women hold 12% of board seats at the top 100 companies. This represents a 1.9% increase over the last decade.  The report points out that at this rate of change,  it would take 170 years to achieve boardroom gender parity.

The representation of women of color in Michigan's corporate suites is even worse.

The report says that in 2007 there were 13 women of color directors and executive officers combined in Michigan's top 100 public companies.  In 2013 the number remains the same.

Margaret Williams, the Dean of Wayne State University's School of Business Administration, says it's important to change these trends or Michigan may lose its substantial female talent pool. She says that's something the state can ill afford.

She adds that the lack of diversity at top corporate levels can hurt the state economically.

"There's a good likelihood that having more different viewpoints and background represented on the board would indeed improve the performance of these boards," said Williams.

She notes one bright spot.

"There are some companies out there that have made great progress in this area, which to me tells an important story that it's possible to do that and that other companies have something to shoot for," said Williams.

From the report:

Four of Michigan’s 16 Fortune 500 companies (CMS Energy, Masco, Penske Automotive and Visteon) have no women executive officers, eight have one, three have two and one (Kelly Services) has three... Among Michigan Fortune 500 companies, there is only one Women of Color executive officer (Ford Motor Company) in 2013 compared to two at Michigan Fortune 500 companies in 2011.

--Virginia Gordan, Michigan Newsroom

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