working women

Best and Worst Companies for Women

I’ve compiled a list of lists that rank the best and worst companies for women.  How are these lists created?  And should we believe any of them?

Best Companies for Women

  • Top 50 Companies for Executive Women (by National Association of Female Executives).  NAFE is a division of Working Mother Media (publisher of Working Mother Magazine).  To get a spot on this list, companies must apply to be considered.  The applicants must be for-profit companies which have at least 2 female board members.  Applicants provide NAFE with the numbers regarding gender representation at all levels throughout the company, with a particular focus on the corporate officer and P&L leadership ranks.  NAFE also considers whether there are training programs at the company focused on how managers advance female employees, and how these managers are held accountable for doing so.  Finally, NAFE tracks how many employees have access to programs and policies that promote the advancement of women and how many women take advantage of them.   This list is published annually.
  • Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors (by Catalyst).  Catalyst is a non-profit whose mission is to expand opportunities for women and business via research and outreach programs.  Starting with the annual Fortune 500 list, they place the companies into categories, e.g. those with >25% directors, 1 director, and 0 directors.  They publish this report and the lists of those companies, annually.  What is laudable about Catalysts’ lists is that they focus on companies that have high levels of female representation but also call out those with zero or very low levels of female participation.  
  • Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Executives and Top Earners (by Catalyst).  Again, Catalyst starts with the Fortune 500 list, and they place the companies into categories, e.g. those with female CEOs, those with females listed as top-earners, those with 25% female executive officers, and those with 0 female executive officers.  Again, this is one of the only lists to draw attention to both the good and the bad, and is published annually.
  • UC Davis Annual Study of Women Business Leaders (by UC Davis Graduate School of Management).  This annual study highlights objective data about the number of directors and management teams of California-based companies with gender diversity.  They sort both the “best” and “worst” companies into lists depending on how many have high numbers of female directors or management teams and how many have zero (or the lowest) directors or managers.  This list is published annually.
  • Top 25 Best Companies for Work-Life Balance (by Indeed).  Indeed is a job listing aggregation site that also claims to have the largest number of company reviews by employees.  The methodology of this list is unclear, but they say it is based on “employer reviews”.  It is not specifically for women, but addresses work-life balance comments and reviews based on work-life balance.  It appears to be published annually.
  • Working Mother 100 Best Companies (by Working Mother Magazine).  Working Mother Media publishes the Working Mother Magazine.  To get a spot on this list, companies must apply to be considered.  The applicants must answer over 500 questions on workforce gender diversity, childcare, flexibility programs, and leave policies, among other things.  The application asks about the availability, actual usage and accountability of managers who oversee the programs.  The names of companies who do not make the list are not published.  This list is published annually.
  • Top 100 Companies for Remote Jobs (by Flexjobs).  Flexjobs is a job listing aggregation site that predominantly lists part-time or remote/telecommuting positions.  They publish this list annually and their methodology is predominantly based on the number of remote, or work-from-home jobs posted by a company in the prior year.  Therefore, the list skews towards larger companies (with, by definition, more job postings) and those that are growing (b/c they are by definition, more likely to hire).
  • Best Companies to Work for (by Fortune).  Technically, this is not a list that focuses on women.  However, for some prior years (e.g. 2011 and 2012), Fortune provides limited sorting and filtering by different criteria that are important to many women, including: number of female employees; best child-care benefits; best work-life balance; and telecommuting.  To be included in these 100 companies, companies must apply.  To quality, the company must have >1,000 employees, and be at least 5 years old.  The applicants’ employees are surveyed and their score comprises 2 parts.  2/3 of the applicant’s score is based on a survey asking employees about their job satisfaction, management’s credibility and company camaraderie.  The other 1/3 is based on responses to questions answers provided by the company regarding hiring practices, internal communication, recognition and training programs, and diversity efforts.  This list is published annually.
  • Top 10 Family Friendly Firms List (by Yale Law Women).  Yale Law Women is a student organization that works with law firms who agree to provide them with data regarding the number of female partners, women in their management committees, maternity leave policies and participation rates, among other things.  The list is “opt-in” only, meaning the firms who are listed have agreed to provide data, and those who do not make the list or do not opt to participate, are not mentioned.
  • Vault Best Companies (by  Vault is probably best known for its rankings of investment banks, consulting firms and law firms.  They are focused on the undergraduate or recent graduate and publish a number of lists by industry of the “best” firms to work for.  They publish a “Best Work/Life balance” list for the banking sector based on employee surveys asking how they rate their work/life balance on a scale of 1-10; a “Diversity for Women” list for the consulting industry based on employee surveys asking how they rate the receptivity, hiring, promotion and mentorship of women at their company; and a “Diversity for Women” list for law firms based on an unclear methodology.  They do not publish a “worst” list and provide this list annually.
  • Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance (by Glassdoor).  Glassdoor is an employee review site that asks users to review and rate their employers on a few different measures, including work-life balance.  Though its clear that employee reviews are the basis for their rating, they do not provide a “worst” list of companies for work-life balance and I am not sure how they aggregate the reviews to come up with a ranking for the “best”.  They publish annually.

Worst Companies for Women

Believe it or not, I could only find 2 lists of “Worst” companies for women.  One is actually not truly a new list, because even though it was published by 24/7 Wall Street (a website), it was based entirely on the companies at the bottom of the Catalyst list (see above).

The other was a list that does not appear to be published annually, but is based on a report by Calvert Investments, a mutual fund firm that invests in companies that engage in sustainable and responsible practices.  They looked at the constituent companies of the S&P 100 index, evaluating them on 10 different criteria: equal employment policies, internal and external diversity initiatives; the scope of those initiatives; family-friend benefits; directorship diversity; director selection criteria; whether they company discloses gender and racial employee make-up; the highest paid executives and whether they include minorities or women; and the overall corporate commitment.  Diversity appears to account for sexual orientation, gender and race, in their methodology.

As you can see, there really is a desire to be positive even in light of the appalling numbers of women in leadership in corporate America.  If you know of any lists I am missing, please leave a comment / share.



One thought on “Best and Worst Companies for Women

  1. This is a woman owned healthcare business that is very supportive of women, they even serve a women’s charity in their community, check them out.

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