ArvinMeritor achieves industry first for women’s leadership

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ArvinMeritor has become the first company from the automotive manufacturing industry sector to be classified as a “Most Valuable Player,” according to the 2007 Women’s Leadership Index released Monday, Oct. 8. To achieve elite MVP status, ArvinMeritor was recognized in the following categories for Fortune 500 companies:

  • Women directors: ArvinMeritor has two women on the board of directors (both on key committees);
  • Women executive officers: ArvinMeritor has three women in its top ranks; and
  • Women directors and executive officers: ArvinMeritor has more than 20 percent of women on both its board of directors and executive management team.
  • “ArvinMeritor has a rich culture of promoting women to leadership positions, because of the valuable contributions they provide throughout the company from the board room to the plant floor,” says Chip McClure, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Troy, Mich.-based ArvinMeritor. “We continue to give diversity candidates greater responsibility so they can move through the organization. Women are important to our success – diverse talent leads to diverse ideas and better business results.”

    The annual study, first published in 2003 and conducted by the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, was commissioned by the Inforum Center for Leadership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for women to advance their careers. The study is a benchmark for Michigan companies to measure their female corporate resources at the executive level and in the board room.

    ArvinMeritor was named a MVP for its high scores in the comprehensive analysis that required WLI points of 11 or more to make the top grade. The index provides a snapshot of the combined presence and progress of women in Michigan’s largest companies.

    Rhonda L. Brooks and Victoria B. Jackson both have been directors since July 2000 and served as directors of Meritor from July 1999 until the merger. They comprise 20 percent of the ArvinMeritor board seats. McClure says that they are not only on the board, but also serve on key committees vital to the company’s success.

    Brooks is the chairman of the Environmental and Social Responsibility Committee and is a member of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee. Jackson is a member of the Audit Committee and the Environmental and Social Responsibility Committee.

    In the executive suites, ArvinMeritor has three women serving as executive officers: Mary Lehmann, Bonnie Wilkinson and Lin Cummins.

    Lehmann is senior vice president of strategic initiatives, and treasurer. She is responsible for ArvinMeritor’s global capital market and treasury activities and leads the corporate strategy group. Lehmann also serves on the Inforum board of directors.

    Lehmann has received accolades for her groundbreaking treasury work during the 2006 fiscal year to refinance ArvinMeritor’s capital structure, significantly improve its balance sheet and increase its liquidity, while Wilkinson provided legal support for this activity.

    Wilkinson is vice president and secretary of ArvinMeritor. In addition to her other legal duties, she is responsible for matters of corporate governance.

    Cummins is senior vice president of communications. She is responsible for corporate communications policy and strategy, executive and employee communications, brand management, public relations, global marketing, and governmental and community affairs. Today, she holds a rare communications post as an elected company officer for a $6 billion company.

    “We have a culture at ArvinMeritor where everyone contributes to our success,” says McClure. “Our female board members and officers are a valuable component in our strategy to thrive in the global automotive industry. This recognition is significant for ArvinMeritor since we’re ahead of the curve, according to the 2007 Women’s Leadership Index. As a company, we work every day to harness the creative power generated by bringing together knowledgeable people with dissimilar backgrounds.”

    Looking beyond the officer level, ArvinMeritor also has women executives in key roles at the vice president and director levels.

    ArvinMeritor says it provides opportunities for its employees in 25 countries to maximize their personal and professional potential. Diversity initiatives focus on three main areas: work force diversity, behavioral and cultural diversity, and supplier diversity.

    ArvinMeritor says it has several initiatives in place globally to promote women. The company recently celebrated International Women’s Day at its facilities, including its Xuzhou, China, location.

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