Women are slowly but surely breaking through the glass ceiling, and there are certain companies that definitely stand out from the rest when it comes to helping female execs climb the corporate ladder.
The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), annually recognizes organizations whose policies and practices encourage the advancement of women's careers with their Top 50 Companies for Executive Women list. This year, they report a milestone: "At our winning companies, women are running 23 percent of the operations that bring in more than $1 billion in revenue."
At the companies that made the top 50 list, women hold 23 percent of board seats (versus 16 percent at Fortune 500 companies) and represent 14 percent of CEOs (versus 2 percent of all companies nationwide). According to NAFE, "the winning companies are advancing women whose personal brands combine acute business acumen with collaboration, listening and people development."
Some of those assets, characteristic of female leaders, are considered 'soft-skills,' but that doesn't make them any less valuable. "The 'soft' skills were once considered women's tools-those warm-and-fuzzy people skills that were nice to have but unnecessary in the hard-charging, results-driven business world," says Peggy Klaus, author of The Hard Truth About Soft Skills. "Not so anymore. Soft skills are as important, if not more so, as the hard ones, and they will make or break you as a leader."
Those who made the list obviously understand this. Here is a glance at some of the companies honored and what they did to make the list. The full list of 50 companies follows.
Abbott's Women Leaders in Action (WLA) is a dedicated program that focuses on the development of women leaders.
Accenture created the course "Developing Client-centric Women" to help female senior managers qualify for senior executive positions.
American Express offers a program called Pathways to Sponsorship, which helps pair women with sponsors who serve as advocates for their work.
DuPont has a P&L initiative committed to sponsoring and advancing 36 women within two years.
At public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, women run half the half the U.S. office and serve as four of the seven regional presidents.
IBM launched the "Building Relationships and Influencing" initiative (BRI) to target key "nuggets" that hold women back to help them progress in their careers.
KPMG created a Diversity and Inclusion Scorecard, which helps identify women stalled in the progression of their career.
Kraft Foods offers the course "Efficacy for Women," which helps women improve skills they often lack, such as influencing, risk-taking and building networks.
Last year, Marriott International selected women to fill five of their 12 newly created VP positions.
Procter & Gamble
P&G pairs female senior executives with woman at the CEO-level for mentoring.
At Walmart, the President's Global Council of Women Leaders focuses on developing female leaders and championing their opportunities internationally.
WellPoint has improved gender fairness by offering a job-positing tool that makes succession planning transparent.
Top 50 Companies for Executive Women 2011
- Allstate Insurance Company
- American Electric Power
- American Express Company
- AOL Inc
- Bank of America
- Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical USA
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
- Colgate-Palmolive Company
- Eli Lilly and Company
- Fleishman-Hillard Inc.
- General Mills
- HCA Virginia Health System - Richmond Market
- HSBC North America
- IBM Corporation
- Intel Corporation
- Johnson & Johnson
- KPMG LLP
- Kraft Foods, Inc.
- Macy's Inc.
- Marriott International, Inc.
- McDonald's Corporation
- McKinsey & Company
- MetLife, Inc.
- New York Life Insurance Company
- Northern Trust
- Office Depot
- Pfizer Inc
- Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
- Prudential Financial, Inc.
- State Farm Insurance
- Texas Instruments Incorporated
- The New York Times Company
- The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
- The Principal Financial Group
- The Procter & Gamble Company
- Verizon Communications Inc
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
- WellPoint, Inc
- Wyndham Worldwide
- Xerox Corporation
2011 NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women Non-Profits
- Bon Secours Richmond Health System
- March of Dimes Foundation
- Mercy Health System
- MidMichigan Health
- Moffitt Cancer Center
- Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
- VCU Health System
- WellStar Health System
- Yale-New Haven Hospital