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The Best Companies for Women Focus on the Four Ps: Power, Pipeline, Pay, and People

by
Elaine Rigoli
Jul 23, 2007, 3:26 pm ET

Eight leading corporations do a better job than other companies at focusing on the “Four Ps” that help to advance women’s leadership roles in corporate America, according to PINK magazine.

The national business magazine, geared toward American businesswomen, selected its “elite eight” of what it calls America’s finest companies for women.

In its inaugural selection, PINK magazine chose American Express, Heller Ehrman LLP, Kelly Services, Aflac, FedEx Services, Grant Thornton LLP, Turner Broadcasting System, and Wachovia. Also, Bebe Stores received an honorable mention.

The magazine’s editors say they chose those companies based on the following four Ps:

  • Power. Women in board seats and C-suites, and “those with P&L responsibility.”
  • Pipeline. Leadership training, mentoring, and coaching programs to retain talented women and “move them up the ranks.”
  • Pay. Evidence of pay equity, including the number of women in the top 20% of company salaries.
  • People. A work culture that allows women to have a “beautiful career and a beautiful life.”

“When it comes to advancing women, these companies demand results, not rhetoric,” says Cynthia Good, the magazine’s founding editor.

Good says she was inspired to name top companies for women because corporate America is still a long way from parity when it comes to senior-level leadership.

In fact, the magazine offers up recent Catalyst research that finds that, among the top 500 companies last year, women represented 15.6% of corporate officers and 9.9% of the pipeline into those positions. In addition, women held 6.7% of top-earning jobs in 2006.

Another recent Catalyst report finds that just 13 Fortune 500 companies, or less than 3%, are headed by women. That’s up slightly from 2006, when 10 women held the top job.

“All companies would do well to adopt the best practices demonstrated by these firms, which are committed to advancing women in the workplace,” says Good.

SelectMinds, a provider of corporate social networking solutions that just launched WomenConnect to network current and former women employees, is one method used by companies such as JPMorgan.

“With WomenConnect, we are delivering the industry’s first solution to help organizations build a powerful corporate social network of current and former women employees. The result is a well-connected and engaged network, resulting in the retention and re-recruitment of women and generating good-will among this important constituency,” SelectMinds CEO Anne Berkowitch said in a statement.

Improving Best Practices

PINK magazine ranked Kelly Services third among the honored corporations. The editors explain that Kelly Services was selected as one of the best companies in America for women in business because “it is clear the company is doing a great deal to improve best practices when it comes to retaining and promoting women and actually moving women into the very top jobs.”

At Kelly, for example, nearly 500 women (more than 50%) are in the top-fifth of all employees by pay. Also, more than 50% of Kelly’s female executives have P&L responsibility and 13 women manage business operations in excess of $100 million.

Tory Johnson, founder of WomenforHire.com, says she values the “four Ps” as an effective measurement tool.

“Women’s needs today are diverse. What works for me may not work for you,” says Johnson, who is also the official Workplace Contributor for ABC’s Good Morning America.

“Some of us value pay and power, others value the people and culture that enable us to thrive on our terms. Big bucks with miserable people — or great perks and lousy pay — aren’t what the majority of women today look for in their careers. It’s the right mix of the Ps that matter most,” she says.

Johnson notes that while those eight companies deserve to be saluted, they’re certainly not the only ones that also deliver results and not rhetoric on women’s issues.

“Dozens of other top-tier companies are proving themselves to be exceptional places for women to work,” adds Johnson.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 67 million women, representing 46% of the total U.S. labor force, were employed in 2006, with the largest percentage (38%) in management, professional, and related occupations. In addition, women represent 51% of all workers in these high-paying occupations.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Deborah Jones

    It seems to this humble reader that the things listed in the article that are desired by women would be desired by all. Everyone, men included, have differing views on what their own motivations need to be.

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