Being a mother is a 24/7 job. Add in another 40-plus hours outside the home and you're talking about some really fuzzy math. When school visits, another child, and the desire to balance it all gets added in, the chances of also having an understanding boss may seem less likely than a big year-end bonus.
Working Mother magazine, for the past 25 years, has been challenging companies to step it up and prove they can be successful both with their bottom lines and with understanding the demands that come with being working mothers.
Today, the magazine released its annual Working Mother 100 Best Companies list. The top 10, in alphabetical order, are:
Bank of America
Bank of America is a leading financial institution based in Charlotte, N.C. The global company has more than 100,000 employees, and there are currently more than 4,000 jobs open in the United States alone. Opportunities range from bank teller to design and marketing.
With more than 160,000 employees, Deloitte provides professional services including consulting, audit, tax, financial advisory and risk-management advice to clients worldwide. The company's U.S. headquarters is in New York, but there are 80 offices in the United States with more than 2.000 jobs open.
From its base in the suburbs outside Washington D.C., the Discovery Communications company owns popular channels including Animal Planet, TLC, and the upcoming OWN: The Oprah Network. More than television, the company also markets educational toys in the Discovery Store and runs several websites. There are only a little more than 100 jobs available -- but that's what happens when you're a "Best Company to Work For."
Ernst & Young
This major global consulting company employs more than 140,000 people globally. People like working for the company; 25 percent are "boomerangs"-- former employees who left and came back! The company is based in London, but its U.S. headquarters are right in Times Square, New York City.
The sixth-largest food company is based in Minneapolis, Minn. If the free Cheerios and Hamburger Helper isn't incentive enough, General Mills still offers a pension plan to eligible employees. Job openings range from meat scientist, which requires a PhD, to web developer, with offices located coast to coast.
The company known for putting desktop computers in many businesses decades ago is still making technology strides from its suburban New York offices and around the world. Almost 400,000 employees are encouraged to be innovative; every worker gets on average 60 hours of training each year. Globally, there are more than 7,000 available positions.
KPMG provides audit, tax, and advisory services globally. With 140,000 people in 146 countries, the company has almost 1,000 job openings in the United States. A statement on the website declares, "Reducing your working hours or working flex-time does not mean saying good-bye to promotion." The company is based in the Netherlands.
Along with KPMG, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (or PwC) is a Big Four auditor. The London-based company employs more than 163,000 people worldwide. With 75 offices in the states, non-manager employees get three weeks vacation to start.
University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
The 493-bed facility is in Madison, Wis. This division of the state university has been nationally ranked for its health-care services in areas including cancer and orthopedics, in addition to its top-notch work environment. The facility offers many wellness classes including meditation.
WellStar Health System
Atlanta-based WellStar employs 11,000 people to treat its population of 600,000. The 400 available jobs are mostly health-related, but there are many office-type opportunities as well. The company offers adoption assistance as well as sign-on bonuses for specific positions.
What it takes to be a Top 100 company
Hundred of companies with at least 500 employees vie for a spot on the list. The application process includes more than 600 questions to prove they truly are working-mother-friendly. In order to make the list, companies must excel in areas including work-life programs, child care, flexibility, and elder care resources.
Jennifer Owens, Working Mother's senior director, Editorial Research & Initiatives, compiles the application and processes the results. She says a trend over the past three years is in child care.
"Offering back-up child care is almost like a norm for these companies," Owen says.
All of the companies in the Top 100 offer telecommuting and flex time. The average amount of paid maternity leave is eight weeks, and average paid paternity is two weeks.
How to really get the benefits
Many working mothers might feel like they don't get all the potential benefits offered by their companies. Owens says it comes down to communication and management, and Working Mother is on top of it.
"Companies can have the CEO standing up there saying, 'We are all about flexibility,' but we know it's all about the managers," she says. "So we ask about training managers to implement these programs."
Advice for companies that didn't make it this year
Trends show that the next big benefit to differentiate the "best" companies is something called "sponsorship." Owens says that sponsorship takes the concept of mentoring to the next level. With sponsorship, corporate executives are directly responsible for an employee's advancement.
In addition, companies can increase their benefits to working mothers, resulting in happier and more loyal employees.
"Flexibility is cheap to offer and has a direct impact on turnover and loyalty," Owens notes. "Employees remember this. The day you can see your kid's play, you remember that."
(In full disclosure, AOL made this year's list, and the author of this article is a working mom.)
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