Inforum Blog


By ION President Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane

Inforum’s “Strategies for Greater Success,” held Aug. 10 in Grand Rapids, provided tools to help you put your best foot forward, both personally and professionally. Making a commitment to be more successful is exciting.

As president of ION, I sincerely hope that you will achieve the success you dream of – not only because Inforum members are also ION members, but because when one woman excels at what she’s passionate about, all women benefit. I also hope that many of you are passionate about joining the board of directors of a public or nonprofit corporation. After all, women constitute approximately half of the work force and the majority of the consumer market. It makes perfect sense that we should have a greater presence on boards. And if Inforum is any indication, there is an abundance of women who are ready, willing and able to serve.

So why are women still so poorly represented on corporate boards?

Part of blame rests with nominating committees who believe that the only qualified board candidates are sitting or retired CEOs, the majority of whom are male. Fortunately, this belief is changing. It seems almost every month I see another article or report about the positive financial benefits for companies that have a balanced board. Experts in marketing, human resources, capital markets, corporate governance, and community affairs, along with industry and financial experts, can all contribute valuable skills as board members.

3D puts your name in front of nominating committees

Another obstacle is a candidate’s lack of visibility. To be considered for board service, you must first get your name on “the list.” ION can help you do that. Last month we announced our partnership with GMI to bring you the Diverse Directors DataSource (3D). This new resource is designed to promote the formation of boards with diverse knowledge, experience and talent, and give board candidates greater access to the nominating system.

If you’re interested in serving on a corporate or nonprofit board of directors, submit your profile to Later this year, 3D will be available by subscription to nominating committees, search firms and shareowners. As these resources help us progress to the next stage of diversity, I’m confident that you will all succeed as professional women. After all, you have 10,000 ION colleagues and friends rooting for you.



Terry Barclay

Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership (ICL) never stand still.

Last month, I told you about ICL’s new NextUp program for early-career women. Now, thanks to a $700,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, we’re starting a new initiative for a group with the power to reshape the Michigan economy: Women entrepreneurs.
The new state funding will support the implementation of two programs focused on high-growth women entrepreneurs: ACTiVATE®, a technology commercialization curriculum, and Astia, a global network of mentors and investors. You can read more about them here.
As they demonstrate greater levels of entrepreneurial passion, they are becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics starting and leading small businesses. ACTiVATE® and Astia harness the intellectual capital of these women grow beyond microenterprise and lifestyle businesses. We are delighted to bring both these programs together for the first time in Michigan.
This initiative is important because, as Michigan’s economy continues to transform, we’re going to need all hands on deck. Research shows that programs like these achieve more than just increasing the representation of women leaders in high-growth start-ups. They actually unlock significant potential to create economic wealth. Women are increasingly achieving academic success.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn is a lead partner supporting the implementation of this entrepreneurial programming, providing not only access to the university assets but also the guidance and leadership of Dr. Kim Schatzel, dean of the College of Business. We could not be more pleased to be working with Dr. Schatzel and her team.
Leading ICL’s new entrepreneurship initiative will be Kapila Viges, who has been named executive director for entrepreneurial strategies. Viges, who has been serving ICL as an advisor since April, formerly was director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the MEDC. Having a professional of Kapila’s caliber onboard gives us all great confidence that the already-proven ACTiVATE® and Astia programs will succeed Michigan as they have elsewhere.

Terry Barclay

One of the most important recurring themes I hear in conversations with Inforum corporate investors and other employers is this: Talent attraction, retention and leadership pipeline development has never been more important to organizations that are actively planning for the future.

At Inforum, we’re launching a new program, called NextUp, to help address that need here in Michigan.
Right now the economic recovery is in what pundits have called a “soft patch.” Unemployment is still high. One might think that would make the job of recruiters easy. But attracting the right talent – and keeping it – is already becoming a challenge.
Companies are under new pressure to develop a pipeline of new, qualified leaders to take over as Baby Boomer retirements and other kinds of turnover begin to intensify. In particular, employers realize that they are going to have to attract and retain early-career women as never before.
The reasons are obvious. First, that’s where the talent is coming from now that 60 percent of new college graduates and the majority of graduate-school students are women. Also: In a marketplace where women make or influence the vast majority of purchase decisions, any company would be foolish to ignore the perspective women executives can bring them.
That brings us to NextUp.
The NextUP program is a structured five-month course intended to jump-start a woman’s early years in the world of work and expedite learning to overcome traditional roadblocks to achieve early and enduring success in a new assignment or job. It seeks to be as powerful for early-career women is ICL’s successful and highly regarded Executive Leadership Program has been since its launch in 1992.
I am excited about this new program. I think it not only fulfills a real need, but has the potential to change lives and careers in a profound way for a lot of early-career women.
Applications for NextUp are being accepted now. The first flight is scheduled to begin in October.
For more information about NextUp,click here. To download a NextUp application, click here.

Terry Barclay

Shortly before Fathers Day, Workplace Options, a Raleigh, N.C.-based provider of work-life programs and employee benefits, provided more evidence that work/life balance is not just a women’s issue. It’s an important concern for men as well.

In a survey of working fathers, Workplace Options found that:
  • Sixty-eight percent have experienced “negativity or problems with their current employers” arising from conflicts between their jobs and childcare responsibilities. Fifty-seven percent reported that there had been multiple incidents.
  • Forty-eight percent said they spend less six hours per day with their children – compared with 31 percent of working mothers.
  • Fifty-six percent of the fathers surveyed said they “frequently take time off of work to deal with child- and family-related issues,” compared to 40 percent of working mothers.
  • Thirty-nine percent of working fathers said the demands of their jobs “detract from their ability to interact with and support children and family.”
For more about this poll, click here.

ION and Womenetics to Collaborate on Awareness Events

The InterOrganization Network, a national alliance of regional professional women’s organizations including Inforum Center for Leadership has formed a new partnership with Womenetics, a business platform that provides information for and about women through online content and targeted events.

Through this affiliation, the two organizations plan to collaborate on events designed to build awareness and further women’s roles in business and the boardroom.
Together, Womenetics and ION hope to create opportunities to advocate for and advance women into leadership positions and to empower professional women in the corporate and entrepreneurial realms.

For more about this new partnership, visit
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