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Oct. 20, 2003

Pool of women executive talent barely tapped


image: women trying corporate laderANN ARBOR, Mich.—For more than three decades, increasing numbers of women have earned degrees in business, law and engineering—degrees long-considered valuable preparation for corporate leadership.

But a new University of Michigan index indicates the state's 100 largest publicly-held companies are barely tapping the pool of women executive talent in the workforce.

The 2003 Michigan Women's Leadership Index, which measures the number of women executives in the highest levels of leadership in companies headquartered in Michigan, was released today (Oct. 20) in Detroit.

The University's Center for the Education of Women conducted the research in conjunction with the Women's Leadership Forum, an education and research organization affiliated with the Women's Economic Club in Detroit.

The index, which is the first of its kind, is based on the number of women holding top-five officer and board of director positions. Index points range from zero to 30, based on the percentages of women holding board seats and top-five compensated officer positions. Officers are awarded more points than directors to recognize their greater degree of influence on the day-to-day life of the company.

Ten companies earned more than 12 index points out of a possible 30, including Ann Arbor-based Borders Group, Inc., the only Fortune 500 company in the top 10.

"We salute the 10 Michigan companies where women's leadership is clearly valued at the top," said Terry Barclay, president and chief executive officer of the Women's Leadership Forum.

"However, we believe the time has come for a realistic look at the levels of executive leadership women have presently achieved and a re-examination of the reasons why their leadership influence is still so rare at the top, even today."

Women executives held 9.6 percent of the seats on corporate boards and 7.1 percent of the top-five compensated officer positions in Michigan's top companies.

The index disputes the long-held belief that the lack of women executives at the top is due to the need for more time to develop a significant pool of qualified and experienced applicants.

"Certainly this was true in the past, but the workforce has changed markedly in the past three decades," said Carol Hollenshead, CEW director. "The pool is there, it has been there, and now it must be developed and tapped."

The research identified three groups: Group I includes the 24 Fortune 500 companies; Group II, companies with annual revenues of $100 million or more, but not among the Fortune 500; and Group III, companies with annual revenues less than $100 million.

Among the top-10 scoring companies:

• Group I: Borders Group, Inc. (Ann Arbor).
• Group II: Compuware Corporation (Detroit); Flagstar Bancorp, Inc. (Troy); Herman Miller, Inc. (Zeeland); Tower Automotive, Inc. (Grand Rapids).
• Group III: FNBH Bancorp, Inc. (Howell); Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (Rochester Hills); Somanetics Corp. (Troy); Pavilion Bancorp, Inc. (Adrian); X-Rite, Inc. (Grandville).

More than half (57 percent) of remaining 90 companies earned between one and 10 index points, and one-third did not receive any points.


Other key findings include:

• Seventy-six percent of the companies have no women executives among their top-five officers.
• Less than one quarter of the companies have more than one female board director.
• Overall, larger companies are more likely to have more female directors than smaller companies. The reverse is true for top-officers; smaller companies are more likely to have better women in officer positions than are large companies.

The executive summary is available on the CEW website (www.umich.edu/~cew).

Copies of the report, which includes scores for each of the Michigan Index 100 companies and detailed research findings, are available for $25 through the Women's Leadership Forum site: www.womenseconomicclub.org

Contact: Jared Wadley
Phone: (734) 936-7819
E-mail: jwadley@umich.edu