March 26th, 2008 | 12:00 pm

Top 10 Companies for Women

filed under News

Contributed by Pamela Capalad

Women are a driving force in the workplace and equal opportunity employment is no longer simply lip service, as smart CEOs realize the power of recruiting and retaining female employees656924000_ed810cc6b3_m.jpg. Companies are not only targeting women and women of color in their hiring practices; many recognize the importance of catering to women’s unique needs to ensure their productivity and well-being. Many companies are implementing formal mentoring and education programs, networking and support systems, and progressive flex-time, maternity leave and on-ramp programs to accommodate this trend.

The companies who made the Glass Hammer’s Top 10 List are industry leaders who actively implement programs that create a balance between increasing diversity in the workplace, juggling family and professional life, and consciously creating programs that contribute to a measurable advancement of women in leadership positions.

This list identifies ten companies where women can be proud to work, due to their forward-thinking policies. However, they are not ranked in a particular order. The methodology used to compile this list was not scientific, but a qualitative analysis based on a survey of existing media coverage of these companies, their programs directed towards female employees, and a comparison with other companies in the same sector. Still, we hope that our readers find the results of our informal survey informative.

  1. Allstate
    Of the approximately 35,000 employees at Allstate, 21,000 of them are women who can take advantage of up to 26 weeks of maternity leave and the option to telecommute, compress their workweeks, and take part-time positions. Their headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois offer onsite childcare and an onsite fitness center with personal training and stress management training. There are over 2,000 women in leadership positions at Allstate and 41% of those enrolled in company-sponsored MBA program are women. Allstate is also known for their commitment to diversity in the workplace. One out of every four new hires is a woman of color. The company also values diversity among their partner companies —28% of vendors, suppliers, and consultants are run by women of color.
  2. American Express
    American Express was named a top company for women by WorkingMother.com, PinkMagazine.com, LatinaStyle.com, and the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE). The company is not only committed to gender diversity, but to racial and ethnic diversity as well, adopting a policy of “diversity and inclusion” into its corporate culture, making it one of the few companies to implement formal procedures to ensure “essential remedial efforts” are met when it comes to understanding the importance of diversity and acceptance in the workplace. Workshops and trainings are offered in diversity education and support networks and professional development programs are offered. Division leaders are held accountable for setting and meeting goals for hiring a diverse group of employees.
  3. Baptist Health South Florida
    Listed as one of the top non-profits for women by NAFE and listed for the 8th year in a row as one of Fortune Magazine’s top 100 companies to work for, Baptist Health South Florida runs six non-profit hospitals and a smattering of health-care facilities where three out of every four employees are women. With one-third of the female employees taking care of children under 12, an on site childcare facility and partial reimbursement for the cost comes in handy. Corporate executives can also take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. Another pioneering perk: Baptist Health offers up to $10,000 to qualifying first-time homebuyers to help them buy their dream homes.
  4. Bristol Myers Squibb
    Appearing on both WorkingMother.com’s and NAFE’s top lists, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has, over the last few years, made strides towards accommodating and advancing female employees. For the last two years, the 120-year-old pharmaceutical company has run a program called “Insights for Success,” a training program that grooms high performing women to hold executive positions in the next five years. 22 percent of those eligible for top positions at BMS are women. Employees also have the option to work from home, an opportunity which one in four employees takes advantage of at some point. Benefits kick in after 14 logged hours of work. Last year, the company also launched new program that offers discounts on childcare.
  5. Colgate-Palmolive
    Almost half of Colgate-Palmolive’s staff are female and one in 10 are women of color. The personal and household care company is recognizing these numbers in a big way. The company’s board of directors has direct involvement in making sure that gender equality policies are created and enforced. Women made up one-third of the executives who report directly to the CEO. Colgate has also included in its mission a commitment to “becoming the best place to work,” which includes flexible work schedules, back up childcare support, and excellent pre- and post-maternity leave. All employees participate in diversity education workshops, managers have additional diversity training and young women of color can take advantage of programs such as INROADS and ASPIRA to get their foot in the door.
  6. Ernst and Young
    As a part of PinkMagazine.com’s Elite Eight, WorkingMother.com’s Top 10, and Top Companies for Multicultural Women, Ernst and Young is one company that has decided to actively bring male employees into the picture as part of E&Y’s Office of Gender Equity Strategy to help brainstorm solutions to pressing gender issues in the workplace. By giving men a voice, this unique program holds both men and women accountable for creating an equal and progressive work environment. E&Y’s Career Watch program makes efforts to assign women and minority employees to high net-worth clients and top projects. Additionally, the Executive Mentoring program pairs young, high-performing minorities with senior executives who provide direct coaching and help them create career plans.
  7. IBM
    From meeting-free Fridays to programs created to get their employees home faster, IBM is not only a technology pioneer, but for the last dozen years, it has been a pioneer in employee efficiency as well. People Oriented Work Redesign (POWR), a program implemented last year, shows employees how to reduce time spent on low-productivity tasks “all in an effort to help staffers get home to their families sooner.” In recent efforts to diversify its company’s work environment, IBM recently increased recruiting efforts for young minorities and women. In fact, managers’ bonuses are tied to their success in employing, training, and promoting women of color. Not coincidentally, in 2006, the company saw a rise in the number of female minorities across all levels of employment.
  8. Proctor and Gamble
    Proctor and Gamble realized long ago that because of its diverse offering of products, a diverse workplace would be necessary to maintain perspective in the marketplace. Thus, the company makes a concerted effort to employ female and minority employees and help them succeed. Latina and African-American female employees are given the opportunity to participate in networking groups and mentoring programs. Over the last four years, P&G has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of female minorities in vice president and executive positions, with 27 women running major operations. Susan Arnold, President of Global Business Units at P&G, was recently ranked number seven on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women.
  9. Prudential Financial
    Women make up over half the employees at Prudential and over one fourth of the leadership staff at the financial services firm. It is no wonder that 90 percent of employees take advantage of Prudential’s flex-schedule options at some point in their careers and 44 percent of employees telecommute. Women can also enjoy a generous, 22-week maternity leave, with most of the time at least partially paid. Upon their return to work, they have access to 20 different company-sponsored childcare centers. With a third of women in positions that hold profit-and-loss responsibility, Prudential is also one of the few financial services firms dedicated to the advancement of its women employees. After recognizing the business skills that are built by serving on non-profit boards, the company also began encouraging their employees to serve on them.
  10. Wachovia
    As part of WorkingMother.com’s, LatinaStyle.com’s, and PinkMagazine.com’s top lists, Wachovia has discovered that its female employees seek networking opportunities and places to discuss professional women’s issues in the workplace and outside. They offer leadership panels that give women the chance to receive advice from other women in their field, programs to help connect women with similar interests, and give women a forum to talk about the art of balancing their personal and professional lives during their annual balance events. Female minorities are also targeted for the Talent Identification and Talent Movement programs. Full tuition reimbursement is offered for continuing education courses.

1 comment

  1. Jane Sanders

    In increasing numbers, companies are realizing that they must fit their system to women, rather than trying to squeeze women into their system. The benefits have been proven – financially and morally. And, activities put into place for women, benefit men and people of color as well. It’s a win-win for everyone!