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Ten NEW sponsors on Working Mother list

Monday, September 26, 2011  
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Working Mother magazine has named 10 Network of Executive Women sponsors to its 2011 100 Best Companies list.

Network sponsors recognized as among the country’s best employers for working women this year are Accenture, American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, Deloitte, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson and Valassis. The Working Mother 100 Best Companies are judged on answers to 650 questions, including data on the access and usage of flexible work arrangements, parental leave, child care, health and wellness support and the advancement of women to all levels of management. All of this year's winning companies offer flextime hours, telecommuting, paid maternity leave and employee assistance programs.

At Accenture, up to 80 percent of employees adjusted their hours and telecommuted at some point last year. The availability of teleconferencing at nearly every office site does away with the need for excess travel, Working Mother reported. Working moms may take eight fully paid weeks off to give birth, and many of them reduce their hours when they return to the office. If they need help with the kids, they can tap 40 hours of subsidized backup care annually, available in-home or at local centers.

American Express describes its commitment to the health of its employees as a "core business value.” Moms who want to lose weight, screen for medical conditions or reduce stress can visit wellness clinics at seven locations to consult with nurses, health coaches, dietitians and physicians; the recent addition of mobile dentistry and pharmacy services saves even more time, the magazine noted. Many sites offer fitness centers with workout classes and cafeterias with nutritious meals. American Express also offers seminars on eating well, provides free generic drugs to help stave off chronic conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure) and grants access to a 24-hour nursing hotline.

At Colgate-Palmolive’s Piscataway, N.J., location, "Maternity Meetings” with a nurse offering health guidance to new mothers, are held throughout the year. The company is well known for its benefits and work/life policies: Anyone who works 17.5 hours per week merits health insurance, including unlimited coverage for in vitro and other fertility treatments, the magazine reported. Expectant mothers can take two fully paid weeks off before giving birth, then spend another 21 weeks at home with their babies, earning partial pay. When they are ready, working moms can return to work on a reduced schedule for up to a year. In nine locations, there are lactation rooms to support breastfeeding. New fathers and primary adoptive caregivers get up to three fully paid weeks off to bond with their kids.

Working Mother highlighted Deloitte’s Remote Employee Network, which provides a sense of community to employees who telecommute. The firm’s new Deloitte University in Texas boasts hundreds of training courses for its employees. As they pursue their career goals, moms may telecommute, ramp up or reduce their workloads, take paid sabbaticals or go on five-year breaks, all while maintaining connections to office mentors and freelance work. Gender-neutral parental leave policies grant at least eight fully paid weeks off to primary caregivers and three fully paid weeks off to secondary caregivers after the birth or adoption of a child. To keep costs down, employees use the firm’s mortgage assistance, tap into up to $10,000 in annual tuition aid and invest in pretax commuter, health-care and dependent-care accounts, the magazine reported.

At General Mills, nearly one-fourth of the workforce has remained with the company for more than two decades. General Mills’ Manager Initiative uses training courses, mentoring circles and town halls to teach officers and directors how to inspire and motivate their workers. The company promotes flexible schedules, grants 26 job-guaranteed weeks off for a birth or adoption (with $10,000 in adoption aid) and allows employees to take three weeks of vacation in the first year. At its Minneapolis headquarters, an on-site center looks after infants ages six weeks to 16 months; everyone else has access to discounts at 63 near-site child-care facilities.

Johnson & Johnson employees who are seeking flexible schedules may click on its LIFE 360 website, which offers training, forms and profiles of successful users. In 39 locations, employees may walk over to the company’s fitness centers or exercise rooms to participate in yoga, Zumba or boot-camp classes, or to follow customized routines. Three-fourths of employees used some type of flextime and 50 percent worked off-site at least once in 2010.

Women received 50 percent of all management and leadership training, career counseling and executive coaching at Kraft Foods last year. Mothers who work at the company’s major sites can take kickboxing classes, do yoga or use exercise equipment at the employer’s gyms. Nearly all workers telecommute when their schedules allow, and many compress their weeks, job share or flex their days around the core hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Maternity leave is generous and parents who decide they want to adopt a child can call the company’s employee assistance program to find reputable agencies and consultants, plus tap into $5,000 in aid, Working Mother noted. College coaching and renewable scholarships worth an average of $7,520 annually help employees’ children achieve.

Procter & Gamble’s North America Market Development Organization bans Friday meetings, making it easier for parents to work from home that day. The company offers seven major affinity networks and 130 employee resource groups, including those for single parents, working parents and anyone raising a child with special needs. Myriad women’s networks offer coaching and mentoring programs and host thought-provoking guest speakers, according to Working Mother. At the executive level, mothers may join the corporate Women Leadership Team, which advocates for alternative work arrangements and recently introduced life and career maps that facilitate conversations about personal and professional goals. Generous tuition aid makes earning advanced degrees more affordable, while scholarships grant employees’ teens up to $2,500.

Parents at SC Johnson receive up to $50 to cover their childcare needs every time they go on overnight work trips (with a maximum of $500 annually). The company subsidizes a concierge service that takes care of daily chores and errands and has a 4,400-square-foot fitness center at its Racine, Wisc., headquarters, Working Mother reported. It also offers on-site medical clinic that performs checkups, runs blood tests and treats fevers. In warm weather, office farmers’ markets make it easy for moms to buy fresh produce. After the birth or adoption of a child, employees can take six partially paid weeks off (with a $5,000 adoption benefit); single moms and the parents of teens and kids with special needs have access to in-house support groups.

Valassis distributes gift cards to the newly married and prepares care packages for workers’ college-and military-bound children, the magazine reported. Expectant mothers may use special parking spaces, take seven partially paid weeks off to give birth, consult with breastfeeding experts and visit its many lactation rooms. Mothers may tap into on-site salons that give haircuts and manicures, post offices that send their personal mail and packages, an auto service that details their cars and changes the oil, and in-house cafeterias that send them home with healthy dinners. At two Livonia, Mich., sites, an internist dispenses antibiotics and allergy shots, checks workers’ blood pressure and performs other basic medical care; elsewhere, employees call the company’s nurse hotline.

NEW sponsor companies that have been on the Working Mother list the longest include Johnson & Johnson, honored all 26 years; American Express, 21 years; and Procter & Gamble, 23 years.

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