Working Mother lists best firms for moms

Wednesday, September 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK – Fannie Mae offers paid time off for volunteer work. The Benjamin Group/BSMG pays its employees to surf.

These companies are among the best at helping working moms balance their careers with the rest of their lives, according to Working Mother magazine, which issued its 15th annual list of top employers Tuesday.

"It's not enough anymore for a company to have a child-care center at their home office to make the list, in the same way they can't allow flextime for just a handful of workers. Employers must be trying to integrate those practices up and down their organizational ladder," said Lisa R. Benenson, editor-in-chief of the magazine.

The list – considered a badge of honor in Corporate America – appears in the magazine's October issue and is available on the magazine's Web site.

Out of the 100 companies listed, Working Mother names 10 companies as exceptionally progressive: Allstate Insurance Co., Bank of America Corp., Eli Lilly and Co., Fannie Mae, IBM Corp., Lincoln Financial Group, Life Technologies Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Novant Health Inc. and Prudential Financial Services.

IBM has been among the top 10 for 13 years – longer than any other company – and in the top 100 all 15 years.

"We have created a workplace that enables [women] to have multiple goals," said Ted Childs, vice president of global workforce diversity.

This year, Working Mother bestowed a special award in the small-business category, honoring Sheri Benjamin, CEO of the Benjamin Group/BSMG Worldwide, a public relations firm.

The company helps pay gym membership fees and hosts a Keep Fit program, in which employees who'd rather surf or walk instead of joining a gym earn an hourly rate.

Ms. Benjamin says the size of a company shouldn't hinder benefits. "We never thought we couldn't do it. We've always put in place very innovative benefits for our employees and never used our small-business status as an excuse," she said.

Washington, D.C.-based Fannie Mae was named the year's "family champion" for allowing workers up to 10 hours of paid time off per month for volunteer work.

Donna Lenhoff, general counsel of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said surveys like Working Mother's are helpful but there still needs to be more emphasis on workplace issues as well as on salary and benefits.

Working Mother's Ms. Benenson agrees.

"Companies in general are doing better. It doesn't mean that there isn't a long road to go for the majority of workers. The companies who make our list provide some amazing benefits, but the fact is most Americans still don't have access to these kinds of family-friendly programs," she said.