What do Women Want ? (Best Companies for Working Mothers)

This article is formerly entitled What Do Women Want, after the 2000 hit romantic comedy film starring Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson.  The movie is actually quite insightful, as Mel Gibson's character accidentally becomes able to hear women's thoughts.  Helen Hunt's character happens to be a successful ad executive, of which Mel's competing with (at least until he gets himself into trouble).

Thanks to the efforts of Working Mother Magazine, we can now see both inside the minds of women executives as well as the corporations that hire and allow them to soaring maximum potential.

Working Mother Media publishes a list of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers (see bottom of article for list).
  • So what makes these companies special in the eyes of working women?
  • And is this what women really want, or are there unsettled demands?
  • In today's marketplace, what would a women's Wish List look like?

Before answering those questions, I think it's necessary to state just why such companies are important to Socially Responsible Investing.  Accommodating all persons regardless of race, color, gender, etc. is not only the right thing to do, but it leads to performance increases versus companies that are closed to all but a select group of persons.  Such companies tend to have cutting-edge Work-Life strategies for employees, as well as a high representation of women on their boards.

Evidence suggests that companies with a strong female representation at board and executive levels perform better than those without, and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance.  (Source:  Women Matter, McKinsey & Co, 2007).  According to a recent British paper entitled Women on Boards (Feb. 2011) there is a strong business case for balanced boards - such boards are more likely to be effective, better able to understand their customers and stake holders, and to benefit from fresh perspectives, new ideas, and broad experience.  This, leads to better decision making.

Studies have shown that companies with diverse boards among European companies, outperform on the equities markets.  Also, and maybe to be expected, such companies have outperformed their rivals financially, with a 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital, and 53% higher return on equity. (Respective Sources: McKinsey & Co. 2007,  Catalyst 2007.)

The above isn't just for European companies.  A Canadian study found that boards with more than average women members, were more likely to identify criteria for measuring strategy, follow conflict of interest guidelines, and adhere to a code of conduct.  The above are characteristics of companies with good governance.  Remember, the key criteria of Socially Responsible Companies are ESG (Environment, Social and Governance).  Already, 2 out of 3 are satisfied when analyzing the best companies for women.  (Source: The Conference Board of Canada, Ottawa).

Achieving more women in the workplace and increasing workplace flexibility can be achieved via enforcing (via regulation) more women on boards, or by Best Practices by the 100 Best Companies. Each country has it own way of achieving women in the workplace via higher board representation.  For example, in the United States, the recent Dodd-Frank Act's Diversity Offices will implement rules to ensure the fair inclusion and utilization of minorities and women in all firms that do business with government agencies.  Other than the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the U.S. is pretty much "hands-off" in this area.  On the other end, are countries that are forcing quotas on publicly-owned companies.  As would be expected, these companies include Norway, Spain, Iceland, Finland - with France, Netherlands, and the European Union considering legislation of quotas.  (Source:  United Kingdom based panel paper entitled Women on Boards, 2/11).

The UK panel above wanted to know what could be done to achieve recruitment of women into the boardroom.  It turns out that lack of flexibility around work/life balance was a big deterrent.  This happens to be exactly what Working Mother Media has focused on in their various Best Companies studiesIt is the aforementioned that Women Want!

According to survey conducted by Working Mother Media, "for 94% of the 100 Best Companies, Flexibility is more than an employee accommodation; it is an essential business strategy.  Flexibility is part of:
  • facilities planning
  • disaster planning
  • and Sustainability and Environmental Strategies.
The last point was the most popular answer given (86% of respondents) and once again returns our readers to the fact that women in the workplace is in fact part of a corporation's,  ESG.   Hence, women are, in a sense, key to Socially Responsible Investing.  This is why this website does not propose "Negative Screening" (for sin stocks) as SRI is more than just eliminating a few bad industry apples.

Flexibility has been something that's easier said than today.  Historically, the Best Companies for Working Mothers have focused on their unique needs by trying to address Childcare, Parental leave and Flextime.  The key word here is "trying" as creating a successful company culture that allows for real flexibility take a lot of work!

Let me give you some examples, traditionally Child-care meant handing out a list of resources (you know people/places to call).  Flexibility meant having different Start/Stop times.  Career support basically started and ended in the beginning.  Companies would have targeted hiring programs for women.  But that was it.

Moving forward of 2 decades, one can see some big changes.  Child-care doesn't just mean giving you a sheet of referrals.  Instead Onsite child care centers are offered to women (and men) employees.  There have been big advancements in Flexibility thanks to the Internet.  Now women can work from home on their computers and soon they'll be able to be video-conferenced in.  Some companies like IBM, actually have virtual buildings/offices where employees from all over the world can conduct meetings.  Lastly, Career support now doesn't end at the hiring process.  Now women receive mentoring, network groups and training programs.

So you might be asking, how did the Best Companies get from Point A to Point B and improve themselves so drastically.  Best Practices among the Best Companies include doing these things, according to the Working Mother Media survey:
  1. Use Surveys, lots of them
  2. Support from upper management
  3. Training & Accountability (for career advancement for women)
  4. Using Metrics to measure progress
  5. and focusing on Communications
Just to show you how important workplace flexibility is, recall last March, when the White House Council on Women and Girls hosted a forum just on this topic (flexibility) that was attended by several VIPs including Michelle and Barack Obama.  Now, if that doesn't send a message, then nothing can...

Below is the Directory/List of the Best Companies 2010 courtesy of Working Mother Magazine.


Mothers who work at this health-care company don't need to skip their kids' choir practices or school plays just to impress the boss: Last year, 89% of employees held jobs that permitted them to flex...
Whatever their personal goals may be, women can find support for them at this management consulting, technology and outsourcing firm.
Women make up a third of all officers, board members and management team members at this financial services and insurance company.
Adding spaces at a child-care facility near headquarters helped more parents enjoy sliding-scale fees for care; those with teens took advantage of the company's 42 $7,000 college scholarships.
"Hub, club, home and roam‚" might sound like the chorus of a preschool song, but it's actually the motto of a formal flexibility initiative that's growing at this financial company.
Kids get a great start in life when their moms work for this Web services company. Its innovative Well Baby program offers coaching on prenatal care, childbirth, lactation and newborn health.
In 1997, this law firm opened a child-care center at its headquarters, making it one of the first in its industry to do so.
Working moms at this pharmaceutical firm enjoyed last year's pilot of its Total Leadership program, an initiative that used guided exercises and group coaching to help participants prioritize and...
Wake up, get dressed, grab coffee, walk to desk. That's the extent of the daily commute for moms enrolled in this technology company's "homeshoring‚" program, which allows associates to work...
This management consulting firm is committed to advancing and retaining the talented women who work for it.
Despite a history that stretches back more than 200 years, this bank stays modern by allowing its employees to define how they work.
Women can  really improve their families' fortunes when they work for this Florida healthcare network, which offers up to $4,000 in annual tuition aid for a bachelor's degree and up to $6,000...
Alternative work options are big at this health-care insurance company, where all employees used flextime in 2009.
Making its list debut, this pharmaceutical company offers great benefits that include 100% tuition reimbursement for job-related courses, which saved employees $7,597 on average last year.
Women flock to the system's mentoring and career counseling programs, apply for up to $5,000 in annual tuition aid and score 72% of top salaries.
Change was in the air at this strategy- and technology-consulting firm last year.

There's a lot to admire about this management consulting firm, where the number of female consultants has doubled in the past six years.
Parents rejoiced recently when this biopharmaceutical company opened its fifth child-care center near its New Brunswick, NJ, campus.
Despite the faltering economy, last year this Midwestern health-care system refused to cut benefits that help employee families.
Anyone who works at least 20 hours per week is eligible for health insurance; at three campuses, health centers treat kids over age 2 for free.
The company's focus on creating a new generation of leaders may be paying off: Half of its highest earners and management team members are women.
Moms are deeply appreciated by this pediatric health-care system, which annually names one female employee Working Mother of the Year and rewards her with a paid day off, a spa trip and Atlanta...
In 2009, the company introduced job-sharing, formalized both part-time schedules and full-time work-from-home arrangements and added global policies that made flextime and telecommuting easier to use.
Last November, this financial services company launched Women Leading Citi, a program pairing female directors and managing directors with career advocates who help them locate development...
Education is highly prized by this consumer products company, which generously grants its employees up to $10,000 in annual tuition aid for job related courses and offers their teen children college...
Parents at this law firm's headquarters find its near-site day care, which serves 85 kids from infancy through age 5, a huge stress reliever–but no matter where they work, they'll find support: The...
In 2009, this financial services firm piloted Maternity Coaching, a quarterly program that prepares women for maternity leave by establishing the steps they need to take to ensure a smooth departure...
Celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary last year inspired this information technology and services company to think big.
The new sabbatical program offered by this professional services organization supports such aspirations, granting employees four unpaid weeks off to do anything they like (climb Everest, hang with...
To enhance their knowledge, moms can apply for annual tuition aid of up to $5,000 for undergraduate studies or $10,000 for graduate work.What We Love
Finding a good child-care provider is stressful, but for employees of this alcoholic beverage company, it's easy. Parents can utilize a resource and referral service to locate care and may now access...
Moms cherish this media company's family-friendly atmosphere. If they have a baby, they can take nine fully paid weeks off to bond and enjoy; new fathers and adoptive parents receive three fully paid...

Women frequently work unorthodox schedules for this silicones supplier, but what matters to their employer is what they do, not when they do it.
Moms who need to travel overnight for work are fully reimbursed for their childcare costs.
Bicycling on a beautiful day, fishing in a well-stocked lake or gathering family for a picnic and softball game relaxes the moms who work for this pharmaceutical company, which maintains its own 267-...
With 75% of its employees working out of client offices, this professional services firm offers scheduling freedom to those who pursue it.
All new parents receive at least four fully paid weeks off after a birth or adoption, with up to $10,000 in adoption aid; at most sites there are lactation rooms with pumps and refrigerators, and a...
Flexible schedules (compressed weeks, telecommuting) are increasingly popular; if their positions allow, moms may design their work around use of these two arrangements.
Making impressive strides last year, this Memphis-based financial services company introduced both a diversity council and an executive advisory council that support the advancement of women, as well...
Women anticipating the birth or adoption of a new family member still get 16 job-guaranteed weeks off, including seven partially paid for birth moms and two fully paid for primary adoptive caregivers...
With 5,350 employees at 17 sites in seven states, this mortgage finance firm wisely focuses on benefits that can be customized.
Parents who work at the headquarters of this biotechnology firm rely on two near-site child-care centers with fulltime, backup and school holiday care for 565 kids, plus "date nights‚" for Mom and...
To show employees that hard work and a healthy lifestyle aren't mutually exclusive, this infrastructure, finance and media company launched Health Ahead, its new global wellness program, last...
Moms head five of the seven U.S. retail divisions of this food manufacturing company, with Yoplait president Becky O'Grady added in 2009.
In 2009, after internal surveys found that its employees sought greater work-life balance, this investment banking, securities and investment management firm sprang into action.
Sometimes just knowing the right way to handle things can set a leader apart. Last year, this professional services firm introduced the Centered Leadership development series, which helps women at...
At monthly gatherings, female leaders talk to up-and-coming women about the lessons they have learned during their careers; last year, women represented 63% of all managers and executives at the...
It's all about family at this health-care system, where employees are eligible for 24 job guaranteed weeks off to deliver or adopt a child.
During the extraordinarily busy time that surrounds the arrival of a new child, parents at this human resources outsourcing and consulting firm now have a little more breathing room.
Starting the week on a high note is easy at this health insurer, thanks to Monday Morning Leadership, a four-month training and peer-mentoring program for managers and team leaders in each business...
After the birth of a child, mothers can take six fully paid weeks off; adoptive parents receive up to $3,000 to cover their costs.
This information technology company offers real help to employees whose children have mental, physical or developmental issues. Its Special Care for Children program covers medical testing and...
Parents enjoy this technology company's Family Fun events, held at least 55 times a year, at which they play games, watch movies and volunteer with their kids.
Anyone with a teenager knows the anxiety of preparing a child to leave the nest, but with this health-care company's free College Coach program, the next stage doesn't have to be stressful.
At this law firm, women have taken sabbaticals to travel Europe, create works of art or just enjoy time with their kids.
Keeping its workforce healthy is a priority for this food giant, whose Feeling Gr-r-reat wellness program offers $1,100 in annual incentives to salaried and nonunion employees.
After the birth or adoption of a child, employees may take 26 job guaranteed weeks off, with 12 weeks partially paid for moms and eight weeks fully paid for primary adoptive caregivers, who are...
Smart women do well at this consumer-goods company. If they are considered "high-potential," they are given executive coaches (who help them sharpen their skills) and connected with company leaders.
This iconic toy maker merits a high approval rating among employees, with 100% of those surveyed saying they are proud to work here.
Employees care deeply about the work they do at this nonprofit foundation, which supports prenatal care and baby health. To honor fathers' participation in their infants' lives, management last year...
Marking the tenth anniversary of its Women's Leadership Development Initiative last year, this hospitality services company took a look back at how the program helped diversify its pipeline for top...
Mothers of children with autism were comforted last year when this payments-solutions company began covering up to 60 annual visits to speech, physical and outpatient behavior therapy for their kids.
Alternative schedules are popular at the accounting, tax and business consulting firms known as McGladrey, the brand that comprises RSM McGladrey and McGladrey & Pullen. In 2009, 90% of their...
Expectant moms have struck gold with this information services provider's new Maternity Management program, which streamlines doctors' appointments and nursing consultations to take them smoothly...
With the formal launch of its Mom's Network last year, this management consulting firm gave all women who were expecting or raising children their own representative–a dedicated manager assigned to...
This giant pharmaceutical company really did its employees proud in 2009. Its new Exceptional Caregiving website provided a variety of resources for those raising kids, teens and young adults with...
From its Janesville, WI, travel clinic to its six-bed hospital in Lake Geneva, WI, this health-care system offers moms many opportunities to advance.
The arrival of a child is celebrated by this financial services firm, which allows new moms to take eight fully paid weeks off and grants two fully paid weeks off to new dads and adoptive parents.
With 100 hours of emergency care at their disposal every year, parents can easily request an in-home visit by a caregiver, and they'll pay just $4 per hour for up to three dependents.
Women make up 71% of the workforce at this cancer research and treatment center, and they have formed a real community. Workers praise managers who've championed them to pursue education or allowed...
First laugh, first step, first word. No parent wants to miss these milestones of a baby's development, which is why this agricultural company offers them the option of applying for a year of job-...
Moms at this financial services firm are constantly being connected to employee networks that help them maintain work-life balance.
Taking five paid days off to spend at a child's school or participate in a school-related activity might seem too good to be true to most moms, but at this labor organization, parents can do it every...
Moms get at least three fully paid weeks off for a birth and can express breast milk in the facilities' Mothers' Centers.
It's been 20 years since this financial services firm opened a childcare center at its Chicago headquarters, the jewel of its work-life program. Since then, once-foreign offerings such as flex hours...
Moms can have lasting careers at this academic medical center, where women already serve as two thirds of all managers, senior managers and top earners.
Every mom wants her child to get a solid education, but many worry about the best way to save for tuition. By opening its "Saving and Paying for College" seminar to employees with kids of all ages,...
Imagine working for an employer that encourages taking a long lunch break to train for a half-marathon, provides free yoga classes on-site and even repairs your bike.
Raising young children while caring for elderly relatives can be stressful, which is why sandwich-generation parents are so grateful for this media company's thoughtful solutions.
From conception through college, employee kids are supported by the policies and programs of this health-care company. 
Getting attorneys to relax is tricky–there's always work to do. So in 2009, this law firm made a revision to its flexible work initiative, encouraging moms to take a break.
Women are moving into the top echelons of this financial services company. While they currently serve as 68% of branch managers and 53% of regional managers, they are assuming assistant vice...
Female partners who are chosen for the new Breakthrough Leadership Development program at this professional services firm are destined for the executive suite.
When this financial services company recently surveyed workers about its flexible schedules, the response was staggering. People raved about how they were saving time, exercising more and seeing...
Adopting a child takes time, money and patience, but for so many parents, it's the realization of a dream. Recognizing that, this consumer products company offers employees who adopt up to $5,000 in...
Parents hold 54% of the jobs at this financial services firm, and 36% have children young enough to attend day care. They appreciate the childcare center that the firm offers at its Woodbridge, NJ,...
Wellness is emphasized by this pharmaceutical firm, where a multitasking mom might find herself flexing her hours, telecommuting, working half days on Fridays or even applying for a six-month leave...
Moms at this consumer products company can take mildly ill children to a local hospital for temporary care, with 75% of the cost covered by their employer (up to $500 per year).
Last year this health-care system doled out $3.9 million in bonuses to employees through its Success Shares incentive program.
All those little things no one tells you about being a mother are addressed by the Practical Parent Education program at this semiconductor and educational technology company. Available on-site and...
Getting a master's for $280 (plus the price of books) is just one of the great deals available to moms who work at this health-care system.
In times of challenge and crisis, moms at this media company don't have to go far to find support. If they are concerned about their physical well-being, they can visit the new health and wellness...
Investing in its people is a priority for this academic medical center, which last year spent $1.6 million on tuition to help employees pursue certifications and academic degrees.
Scheduling freedom abounds for the employees of this academic medical center, who earn 27 to 43 paid days off every year.
Lunchtime workouts keep moms fit at this telecommunications company, where 31 on-site health and wellness centers offer yoga, spin and Pilates classes for $15 per month.
Working from home has become a way of life for many mothers at this health benefits company. Last year, 14% of associates telecommuted full-time, and thousands more did so casually.
Sometimes moms just need an extra hand to get things done, which is why the launch of a concierge service by this health-care organization made such a big splash last year.
Unlimited paid vacation time–could such a thing exist? Yes, if you're at the level of vice president or above at this hospitality company, where tantalizing perks are the norm.
When you look at the amazing benefits that this university offers its employees, it's obvious why 11% of them have worked there for more than 25 years
You can tell a great deal about an organization by how it treats employees when the chips are down. Last year, senior managers at this teaching hospital donated more than $50,000 to create a fund for...

Source:  List provided by Working Mother Magazine.
 
 
 
 

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