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Nine NEW sponsors are top companies for female execs

Friday, February 10, 2012  
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Nine Network of Executive Women sponsors were recognized by the National Association for Female Executives on its 2012 Top 50 Companies for Executive Women list. Noted for their efforts to advance women were Accenture, American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Valassis and Walmart.

The NAFE Top 50 Companies survey evaluates companies’ succession planning, profit-and-loss roles, gender pay parity, support programs, work/life balance programs and other aspects of gender diversity and inclusion. NAFE, a professional membership group, is a division of Working Mother Media. The companies were spotlighted in the February/March 2012 issue of Working Mother magazine.

Accenture, whose employee base is 38 percent women, was recognized for its Developing High Performing Women workshop, which provides female managers with career coaching, exposure to influential leaders and skill-building sessions. Nearly 40 percent of its past workshop attendees have been promoted to senior manager. The management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company hold sannual women’s leadership forums in Silicon Valley and New York. The company also has a robust mentoring program, as senior female executives in its communications and high-tech operating groups are guided by its leadership team and those in the management consulting business help sponsor and coach female senior managers. One-third of Accenture’s senior managers and one-fifth of corporate executives are women. Nearly one-fourth of the company’s top 10 percent earners are women.

At American Express, approximately one-third of senior managers and one-third of corporate executives are women. More than four in 10 of the top 10 percent earners are women. The financial services company offers employees an array of training and development programs. Its Pathways to Sponsorship initiative offers female directors and vice presidents mentoring from senior executives who may eventually serve as their sponsors.

The Colgate Leadership Challenge at Colgate-Palmolive matches talented women with senior executives for a nine-day learning session in New York. As they advance, they may enroll in initiatives for developing executives. When women reach the level of senior manager, they become eligible for nomination to the Colgate Leadership Forum, a program that encourages discussion about the company’s vision and role in current trends. Thirty-seven percent of senior managers and 30 percent of corporate executives are women. More than one-third of the company’s top 10 percent earners are women. One-fifth of its board of directors are women.

At General Mills, 35 percent of the company’s officers are women, up from 22 percent in 2003. Employees are encouraged to carefully plot their careers and regularly review their plans with their managers. To improve job skills, increase productivity and upgrade management abilities, employees may take courses at the General Mills Institute for Leadership Development in Minneapolis. Mentoring programs are offered at the corporate offices and in specific divisions, functions and networks; women make up 68 percent of all recent participants. An external program, Menttium 100, allows women to benefit from the wisdom of leaders outside of the company. More than one-third of senior managers and one-third of corporate executives are women. Thirty-five percent of company’s top 10 percent earners are women. A full half of the executives running divisions with revenues of more than $1 billion are women.

Mentoring and career counseling are widely available to women at Johnson & Johnson, thanks to its Women’s Leadership Initiative affinity group, with more than 100 chapters worldwide. New female MBAs and undergraduates who are interested in a career in finance, IT, human resources, procurement or global operations may enroll in the company’s leadership development programs. Multicultural women directors chosen for the company’s Crossing the Finish Line initiative learn how to advance their careers. One-fourth of the company’s senior managers and one-third of corporate executives are women. More than two-thirds of the executives running divisions with revenues of more than $1 billion are women.

At Kraft Foods, 44 percent of the executives with profit-and-loss responsibility are women. Female employees earned 46 percent of all recent promotions to manager, senior manager and corporate executive. Those who take on a new supply chain position receive coaching for the first three months -- and talented women at the associate manager level and above have opportunities to be mentored by senior executives. The company’s four-day Efficacy for Women program shows female employees how to make the most of their careers. Also offered: women’s conferences and a rotating assortment of educational sessions. All succession plans feature diversity objectives, including those around advancing women, and 10 percent of executives’ annual bonuses are connected to how well they fulfill these mandates.

Long-term succession planning helps women rise to leadership roles at Procter & Gamble. Management works to keep its most promising talent in the pipeline; high-potential women from middle management on are given increasingly large assignments that include profit-and-loss responsibility. According to recent company data, 35 percent of those being actively considered within the company’s succession planning process are women. Procter & Gamble recently named five global directors to its Corporate Women’s Leadership Team, broadening its ability to support female employees. More than one-third of its senior managers and 28 percent of its corporate executives are women.

Valassis is a first-time member of the NAFE Top 50 list. The company’s workforce is more than half women; women make up 32 percent of corporate executive and 30 percent of senior manager ranks. The company’s High-Potential Mentor program grants 26 female and multicultural managers and directors an opportunity to learn from vice presidents and officers, including the CEO, to increase their readiness for executive roles. One-third of the company’s top 10 percent earners are women.

At Walmart, the President’s Global Council of Women Leaders, run by 14 female officers, creates opportunities for women companywide. Employees participating in the Business Leadership Series are given cross-function assignments, while those taking part in the Global Leadership Institute receive personalized coaching. Female executives may take part in the mentoring program or, in some cases, receive guidance from the 100-plus members of the Women’s Officer Caucus. More than one-third of Walmart’s senior managers and 57 percent of its top 10 percent earners are women.

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