This week, we released our biggest, oldest, most well-known Working Mother Research Institute initiative – the 2012 Working Mother 100 Best Companies. The progressive companies on this 27-year-old list value the well-being of their employees and have the policies and programs to show for it – they offer flexible schedules, paid maternity leave and serious advancement programs for women; lots also offer luxurious benefits such as child care, concierge services and on-site gyms, among other benefits.
And while I’ve been wowed again and again by the family-friendly perks that I’ve come across working on this initiative as a research editor over the past year (an office swimming pool! backup care for elderly relatives!), I’ve also been impressed by the diligence and seriousness of the human resources and work life professionals who serve as our application coordinators at the applying companies.
The process of applying for the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list is no simple public relations task. Companies have to answer more than 500 questions about not only what programs are in use, but also how many employees (and which ones) have access to them and how many actually take advantage of each. We demand concrete information about how well women are represented in the highest ranks, how popular and accessible advancement programs are, and how many employees use a wide range of flexibility options, from telecommuting to on- and off-ramping. These concrete numbers let us measure how successful a company is at making such programs seem not only attractive but acceptable as well.
Companies start the application process in December and work on them until the due date rolls around in March. Then the data crunch begins on our end. After running the numbers and checking them all multiple times, we prepare detailed scorecards for every company that applied to explain how they ranked in each of the topic areas – and whether they made our list. This report-back season is a time when many companies start planning new programs and conscientiously focus on the areas of our application where they haven’t ranked well. I spoke with a company this year that was trying to formalize its flex policies, for example, and used its scorecard results to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness.
Our 100 Best Companies are rightfully proud of their accomplishment in making the list, and we're proud of their forward-thinking treatment of their employee moms and dads and everyone else who values their personal lives alongside their work lives. But we're also proud of all the companies that make the effort to fill out our application and to seriously consider what it means to be a Best Company. Their efforts in answering hundreds of questions about the inner workings of their companies show genuine, deep interest in the well-being of their employees.
And in a few weeks, the cycle will begin anew with a revised Best Companies application, which will go live in December!
Read more about our initiatives at wmmsurveys.com .
Krista Carothers is a senior research editor at the Working Mother Research Institute and Working Mother magazine.