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NEW sponsors are top companies for women

Tuesday, February 4, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Ten Network of Executive Women sponsors were recognized by the National Association for Female Executives as 2014 Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. Noted for their efforts to advance women were Accenture, American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Kraft Foods Group, Procter & Gamble, Target Corporation and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The NAFE Top 50 Companies for Executive Women survey is completed by for-profit companies with at least 1,000 employees and two women on the board of directors. The survey tracks female representation at all levels, but especially the corporate officer and profit-and-loss leadership ranks; how many employees have access to programs and policies that promote the advancement of women; how many employees take advantage of those programs and policies; training of managers to help women advance; and how those managers are held accountable for the advancement of female employees that they oversee.

At Accenture, senior female managing directors participate in the company’s Women’s Executive Leadership Development Program, which introduces them to thought-provoking speakers, lively discussions and meetings with the chairman and CEO and the chief leadership officer, Working Mother reported. Special training helps female managing directors and senior managers connect with top executives and devise long-range plans. Also, multi-day sessions on "Maximizing Your Career” sharpen executives’ skills.

American Express helps women navigate its upper ranks by prescribing assignments, experiences and training that will expand their skills. The firm also adds executive coaching to aid their transition. The Accelerated Leadership Development program provides women on the verge of assuming the most senior roles with in-house sponsors and allows them to tackle group or solo projects. The firm’s chief women’s network has four "executive” chapters for those at the vice president level and above, which foster discussions with leadership and invite members to help develop new business strategies.

Leaders at Colgate-Palmolive have devised specific pathways for women’s advancement, requiring each organization to report on its promotion of female executives. To help its members achieve, the Colgate Women’s Network revamped its focus from events to advocacy and now offers Lean In mentoring circles and a conversation series addressing gender differences in the workplace. The company’s WORKSmart program provides scheduling freedom, such as allowing employees to work up to two days a week from home and adjust their hours every week.

At General Mills, women head up most divisions and comprise 42 percent of managers and executives, according to Working Mother. A new sponsorship program is run by female finance officers. Ten distinct networks, including the Women Officers Group and Sales Women’s Forum, target female employees and more than 30 women’s mentoring circles are offered across five functions.

In September 2013, Lynn Pendergrass was named worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson’s consumer business segment, joining two other women in senior roles: Sandra E. Peterson, group worldwide chairman, and Karen A. Licitra, worldwide chairman, global medical solutions group. Female executives are constantly emerging from three Smith College development programs. Dedicated leadership initiatives, councils and conferences support the rise of multicultural women. Executives in the company’s supply chain organization learn how to manage their energy with the Corporate Athlete Program for Female Leaders, available at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando.

ERGs at work

Women at Kellogg interact with senior leaders at panels, discussions and workshops hosted by the Women of Kellogg network and six other employee resource groups. Female executives represent 38 percent of all direct reports to President and CEO John Bryant and 35 percent of the global leadership team, according to Working Mother. To bolster female professional development, the company has long been a sponsor of organizations, like NEW, that help employees gain exposure to industry contacts and garner additional leadership opportunities.

Kraft Foods Group Inc. regularly exceeds its annual targets for the representation of women across all of its business units, the result of a steady increase in female-friendly development programs and the decision to tie 10 percent of executives’ incentive pay to meeting those goals. In October 2013, the company launched the Women at Kraft network, which offers mentoring circles and leadership panels. Three courses at headquarters help female executives maximize potential. Women represent 39 percent of the leadership team, including senior vice president of finance Teri List-Stoll, who is transitioning to chief financial officer.

At Procter & Gamble, women grappling with a personal challenge (from parenting or illness to assignments abroad) may consult a list of more than 100 senior colleagues for someone who’s been through a similar situation; all are trained to offer advice. Women in middle management can look to a pilot program that provides career mentoring from female colleagues in upper management. Among the women leaders at Procter & Gamble are Melanie Healey, group president of North America, and Deb Henretta, group president of the global beauty business.

The 2,383 female executives who belong to Target Corporation’s Women’s Business Council employee resource group may try different leadership roles, from directing subgroups and committees to hosting company panels and events. Many discover their ERG experiences expand their ability to take on greater responsibilities at work, preparing them for promotions. As members advance, they receive one-on-one guidance from leaders within their function. Learning groups allow women to exchange workplace insights. Formal mentoring sessions pair high-performing women in the distribution department with senior executives.

Women have advocates at the highest ranks of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where they made up 34 percent of employees named to officer positions in 2012, Working Mother reported. The President’s Global Council of Women Leaders keeps the concerns of female executives front and center, and the Women’s Officer Caucus ensures that management understands and addresses their specific challenges. Special networks bring women together in the retail stores and at the home office and champions for their advancement have been appointed at every work site.

NAFE is a division of Working Mother Media.

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