Working Mother – Top 10 Best Companies to Work For

In my last post, Working Mother – 100 Best Companies to Work For, I wrote about Working Mother magazine’s just-released 2010 list of the best companies in America, based on all the things they do to help working moms balance home and work.

Today, I’m featuring the Top 10 List from Working Mother’s Best Companies for 2010, along with an excerpt from Working Mother which describes why they received top ranking for work-life balance:

  • Bank of America – Mothers enrolled in its My Work program may log in from home or a satellite office, whichever is more convenient; as of 2009, more than 16,000 associates had signed up for the option, and 94% said it made them more productive. Under the Select Time program, employees who need more flexibility may temporarily switch to a part time schedule and ramp back up when work demands.
  • Deloitte – A new sabbatical program offered by this professional services organization grants employees four unpaid weeks off to do anything they like (climb Everest, hang with kids), or three to six partially paid months off to volunteer or pursue career-enhancing opportunities. Women make up 57% of those who go on sabbaticals; if they want longer breaks, they may take up to five years off. But there are plenty of reasons to stay put, including health insurance that’s available to anyone who works 20 hours per week, up to $10,000 in annual tuition aid for job-related courses and a parental leave policy that gives birth moms 14 fully paid weeks off, with eight paid weeks for primary adoptive caregivers.
  • Discovery Communications – Moms with newborn babies can take nine fully paid weeks off to bond and enjoy; new fathers and adoptive parents receive three fully paid weeks off. If they need help during maternity leave, they may request the services of an in-home caregiver for $6 per hour. And when they’re ready to go back to work, they can reduce their hours for up to four weeks, with no loss in benefits. It’s estimated that half of all workers rely on a regular flexible schedule, but the vast majority also employ such arrangements casually. Anyone who works at least 20 hours per week earns health insurance, and there’s free primary care at headquarters and in New York City and Miami.
  • Ernst & Young – With 75% of its employees working out of client offices, this professional services firm offers scheduling freedom to those who pursue it. For parents, telecommuting and flextime are de rigueur, and at least 11% of workers use a formal flex arrangement. To enhance their freedom, the firm just installed iPass software on all employee laptops, providing a free connection to the intranet from anywhere–even the playground. Spreading the word that it’s possible to advance while raising kids are partners and senior managers on reduced schedules, who travel within their business units sharing stories of success. Women are glad to hear it, especially since they now make up 38% of new partner promotions.
  • General Mills – Moms head five of the seven U.S. retail divisions of this food manufacturing company. More than half of the company’s 48 female officers have worked here at least 20 years, and a third have marked 25 years. Women are now hired for 54% of professional positions and have their own dedicated mentoring circles in marketing, manufacturing and engineering, along with an 18-month co-mentoring program for female directors. Even 40% of manufacturing plants have a women’s task force. While 91% of employees used summer hours last year and 57% flexed their schedules, the company still appointed a flexibility manager to enhance work-life balance.
  • IBM – 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 therapies not reimbursed by insurance, plus academic remediation, up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000. And its new Exceptional Caregiving website fosters support groups among parents and serves as a resource on education, health care and financial strategies. The recently created Global Work/Life Council is designed to spearhead equally vital initiatives. In the meantime, employees can manage stress by following wellness action plans that boost their energy, improve their diets and get them into shape. Workers receive $150 for completing them.
  • KPMG – In March 2009, it piloted the KPMG Executive Leadership Institute for Women, featuring training sessions on topics such as “Gender and Leadership” and “Building Personal Resiliency.” Its new sabbatical offering four to 12 weeks off at 20% pay attracted more than 900 employees. To save money, parents relied on child-care discounts at 1,100 U.S. centers and subsidized backup care that cost just $20 to $25 per day. 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 eligible for a $5,000 adoption benefit.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers – Female partners who are chosen for the new Breakthrough Leadership Development program at this professional services firm are destined for the executive suite. The initiative provides career coaching, training and exposure to senior leaders, and mixes nicely with the firm’s myriad women’s networks and its intranet community, Women Upfront, where mentors can be found. The firm estimates that 80% of employees used some form of flexible work last year; a new four- to 16-week sabbatical offers 20% pay plus benefits, but high-performing women may take career breaks of up to five years. New moms get 26 job-guaranteed weeks off, with at least 12 fully paid.
  • University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics – 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.  A healthy workforce pays its own dividends, so the center grants health insurance to anyone who works at least 12 hours per week and recently extended coverage to employee kids as old as 27. New risk assessments have helped parents pinpoint their health issues and schedule consultations with nurses, dietitians and fitness coaches. To relax, mothers sign up for on-site exercise classes, visit gyms with corporate discounts and enjoy staff knitting groups and book clubs. Kickball games, family swim nights and employee picnics foster a sense of community.
  • WellStar Health Systems – 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 in 2009. Employees now have someone who can walk their dogs, pick up kids’ school assignments or arrange home repairs, among other things. But that’s not the only way the organization has helped moms recently. It started covering in vitro fertilization, opened lactation rooms at all sites, and expanded job-guaranteed maternity leave to 36 weeks from 16. Adoption aid increased for the third year in a row, rising to $5,000 from $4,000, and business-trip backup care was added, costing just $2 to $4 per hour, up to 80 hours per year.

I’m really impressed by what these employers are doing to become more family-friendly and foster greater work-life balance for their employees.

Recurring themes among the top 10 include:

  1. Increased work-at-home options, flex-time and paid time off
  2. Generous funding for continuing education and adoption
  3. Discounted childcare
  4. Concierge/personal shopping service
  5. Personal enrichment classes
  6. Career advancement programs for women

These benefits are not only good for an employee’s personal life, but also, as Working Mother explains, good for their productivity at work and their company’s bottom line.

I’m not a woman, and my wife is a full-time homemaker and teacher for our children, so I can’t speak to which of these benefits might mean the most for our family from a woman’s perspective.

But as a man, the benefit that means the most to me is the ability to work from anywhere (home, library, park, coffee shop) with a flexible schedule. Gratefully, I’m able to enjoy this in my current job.

Which of these benefits, offered by the top 10 companies to work for, is most important to you?

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