Inforum Presents: Unlocking the Potential of Women at Work -- and in Michigan

June 13 in Grand Rapids and June 14 in Detroit: McKinsey's Joanna Barsh talks about the firm's groundbreaking research and the business case for developing, retaining, and advancing women in corporate America

May 31, 2012, 13:03 ET from Inforum

DETROIT and GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Fresh from The Wall Street Journal's 2012 Women in the Economy Task Force Conference, Joanna Barsh, a director at McKinsey & Co., will give a first-hand look at McKinsey's groundbreaking new study, "Unlocking the Full Potential of Women at Work." Barsh co-authored the report and will present its key findings and compare data from the national study to Michigan at events in Detroit and Grand Rapids sponsored by Inforum which was influential in recruiting Michigan companies for the research.

"Unlocking the Full Potential of Women at Work" is an ambitious investigation of 60 leading companies that explores talent pipelines and gender diversity practices in depth. The report reveals corporate America's business case for gender diversity and identifies five practices that are consistently tied to success at hiring, retaining and promoting women.

"Our ongoing research points to new findings of tremendous opportunity, Barsh said. "Twelve of the companies in our sample rose to the top based on four metrics of success: percentage of women at entry level, their odds of advancement compared to men, the mix of women in line vs. staff roles, and the percentage of women at the top. These top 12 outperform by a wide margin as women are 30 percent of their C-suite versus 19 percent on average. We repeatedly heard from their CEOs a clear understanding that this is all about a competitive talent advantage."

"For 50 years, Inforum has been championing the cause of helping women lead and succeed in business," said Terry Barclay, president and CEO of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership. "In an impressive manner, McKinsey's research makes the business case for gender diversity – not just as a matter of fairness, but as a business imperative for companies. We're thrilled to have played a role in recruiting several companies headquartered in Michigan to participate in the study and to bring Joanna Barsh to Michigan."

What McKinsey Found
The McKinsey study shows clearly that leading companies make gender diversity a priority because they see the prize: a talent advantage that's hard to replicate. But few companies are winning that prize. The top circles of leadership remain male bastions, with just 14 percent of women on Fortune 500 Executive Committees and few women CEOs. Corporate leaders are working hard to change this, but progress remains elusive.

Some findings included:

  • The leadership pipeline has leaks and blockages: Women are entering in large numbers (more than 325,000 women have entry-level positions at the 60 companies), but the companies' aggregate pipeline suffers leaks and blockages.
  • Changing the game for middle managers is crucial: Finding ways to help the women in the middle stay in the game and advance — particularly through child-raising years — would reshape the pipeline at these companies and go a long way toward bringing more talent to the top.
  • Good models exist: Several participating companies demonstrate that success is within reach. They are more diverse than their peers, and they got there in different ways.
  • Management commitment matters: Through more than 160 interviews with senior business and HR executives, McKinsey identified an integrated approach to addressing the barriers that hold women back: Be visibly committed to gender diversity; make all senior leaders accountable for creating opportunities for talented women; make diversity an explicit focus of talent management; and give diversity staffs real clout.

Grand Rapids Event Details 
Date: June 13
Time: 5 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Amway Grand Plaza, Pantlind Ballroom, 187 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
Tickets: $50 for Inforum members; $70 for non-members
Click here to register online

Detroit Event Details 
Date: June 14
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Detroit Athletic Club 241 Madison Avenue, Detroit
Tickets: $50 for Inforum members; $70 for non-members
Table sponsorship: $700 for a table of 10 (reserved seating)
Click here to register online

About Joanna Barsh
Joanna Barsh is a director in McKinsey & Company's New York office. She serves as a leader of McKinsey's Consumer, Retail and Organization Practices. Since joining the firm in 1980, Barsh has served a broad range of consumer-facing clients. Her client experience spans mergers and acquisitions, development of corporate growth strategy, and performance and operations transformation. Barsh is a strong advocate for women at McKinsey and beyond. She has been a New York City Commissioner on Women's Issues since 2002, appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Joanna created "The McKinsey Centered Leadership Project," including a video archive of 150 in-depth interviews with women leaders from around the world. In 2009 she co-authored the book "How Remarkable Women Lead," published by Crown Business. Click here for her bio.

About Inforum
Inforum is the leading professional organization focused on creating strategic connections and accelerating careers for women throughout Michigan and the Midwest. Inforum and the Inforum Center for Leadership serve a broad range of professional women at different stages of their careers – from emerging leaders, to high-potential executives, entrepreneurs, and corporate board leaders. Inforum has offices in Detroit and Grand Rapids with operations in Kalamazoo and Lansing. For more information, visit the Inforum website or call 877.633.3500.

SOURCE Inforum