Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > What Must Businesses Do to More Rapidly Increase Corporate Gender Diversity?

What Must Businesses Do to More Rapidly Increase Corporate Gender Diversity?

May 28, 2024

While the 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference has an impressive lineup of women chief executive officers and leaders headlining the agenda, that doesn’t proportionally reflect the reality of the composition of today’s corporate C-suite. Case in point, Inforum’s Michigan Women’s Leadership Report released earlier this year showed that among 83 of the largest publicly traded companies in the state– there were only six women chief executive officers. Unfortunately, that marks an increase of only four from 20 years ago. Michigan’s leading chief executive officers discuss how to change that.

Rachel Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Gardner White

Rachel Stewart headshot

“Rapid shouldn’t be the aspirational goal. Real diversity in all respects in the C-suite and throughout organizations takes a long-term commitment from the highest levels. In my experience, corporations that embrace and commit to intentionally hiring from a diverse pool of applicants, actively invest in employee development and training, and understand the needs of their team members, are increasingly successful as they have higher retention and greater overall job satisfaction.”

Sandy Pierce, Corporate Board Executive, CEO Adviser, Community Strategist

Sandy Pierce

“Michigan businesses must…Be fearless in recognizing women bring valuable skillsets and qualifications that differ from male peers. Be intentional and implement proactive diversity initiatives, from recruitment to promotion. Establish measurable goals and hold leadership accountable for achieving gender parity. Foster mentorship programs that connect aspiring female leaders with seasoned executives. Partner with educational institutions and community organizations to cultivate a pipeline of talented female professionals ready for leadership positions.”

Natalie King, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Dunamis Clean Energy Partners, LLC

Natalie King headshot

“To truly promote gender diversity in Michigan’s corporate sphere, I believe strategically targeting systemic barriers is key. Implementing unbiased hiring, such as blind resume screenings, is a start. Another integral step is establishing women-focused professional development and mentorship programs, encouraging leadership. Additionally, prioritizing flexible work-life policies benefits everyone. Together, collaborating on these efforts builds an inclusive culture essential for success, guaranteeing fair representation and laying the groundwork for a brighter, more inclusive future.”

Christina Keller, Chief Executive Officer and Chair, Cascade Engineering

Christina Keller headshot

“First, we need to create on-ramps to get more women into manufacturing via high-quality early STEM education programs. Second, we need to reduce barriers to employment such as childcare, transportation, and housing. Third, we need to address the leakage points where women tend opt out of their careers when the challenges of building a family and a career come into direct competition. Fourth, we need more transparent and inclusive decision making that leads to more diverse leadership teams. While this may not result in ‘rapidly’ increasing improvements, these actions will
be enduring.”

Graphic about women in the C-Suite