Best Companies for Ambitious Women

Last Updated Mar 18, 2011 2:47 PM EDT

Pretty much every business magazine has its own version of a "Best Places to Work" list. That often means these companies offer generous maternity leave, networking and mentoring programs, and flextime.

But what if you're a professional woman whose main concern isn't work/life balance but conquering the world? Or at least the corporate ladder?

Well, then there are probably two lists for you: Working Mother's Best Companies for Women's Advancement (separate from Working Mother's more touchy-feely 100 Best Companies) and the National Association of Female Executives' Top 50 Companies for Executive Women, which was released earlier this week.

It's worth noting that seven of the companies on this year's NAFE list also made the Working Mother list. But where Working Mother only lists 10 companies, NAFE gives us 50. That greatly expands the choices for women who don't work in finance or consumer products companies, which dominate NAFE's top ten.

Just because these companies have lots of high-achieving women doesn't mean they've given up on work-life balance: 92% of them have manager training on flexible work arrangements. All but two of them have a formal program to identify and resolve wage gap grievances.

Women on the Board
To be considered for NAFE's list, companies have to have at least two women on their board of directors and have at least 500 employees in the U.S. That's just the start:
  • Nearly three-quarters of companies on the NAFE list have three or more women on their board of directors, compared to fewer than one-quarter of the Fortune 500.
  • Women make up 14% of the CEOs at companies on the NAFE list, compared to a paltry 2.4% of the Fortune 500.
  • Women make up 32% of the top earners at NAFE's companies, compared to just 7.6% of the Fortune 500.
  • Among NAFE's 50 companies, women run 23% of the businesses worth more than $1 billion
NAFE's top ten companies are:
  1. Abbott
  2. American Express Company
  3. Bank of America
  4. General Mills
  5. IBM
  6. KPMG
  7. Kraft
  8. Marriott International Inc.
  9. Procter & Gamble Company
  10. Prudential Financial Inc.
The full list of 50, as well as 10 worthy non-profits, can be found here.

Does your company have a shot at making this list anytime soon? Why or why not?

RELATED Image courtesy of flickr user World Economic Forum
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul
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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.

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