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NAFE’s Top Companies for Executive Women: Hits & Misses for 2010

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The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) has come out with their 2010 winners’ list with some glaring exclusions that speak volumes for the year 2009 was in terms of layoffs and leaner payrolls. For example, medical insurer Aetna, which was in the Top 10 list last year is out. Hugely surprising because their submission for Vault’s Annual Corporate Diversity Survey, which we product jointly with nonprofit INROADS, last year spoke of a different reality in 2008. Take a look below, in 2008, 31% of their board comprised women executives and their retention rate for female employees remained almost constant between 2007 and 2008:

Another glaring absentee: Hewlett-Packard. While not in the top 10 last year, they made the Top 50 list in 2009. The numbers they submitted to our Annual Survey were bare, but they were recognized for making the choice of discussing their diversity initiatives and internships. While they didn’t choose to provide us with more specific data on leadership demographics, 30.5% of their employees were female in 2007 and 2008.* When this percentage doesn’t change, it can be telling for shifting numbers among senior leadership.

There are several other exclusions as well that should worry female executives who are in leadership roles and available for mentoring and promoting other women to management positions. These inclusions are also telling of a year where mergers and bankruptcies kept most women-friendly companies out of rankings and maintaining lean staff numbers. These include Ford Motor Company (Although, they reported a 43% increase in February sales today, surpassing GM for the first time in 50 years.), Sallie Mae (no surprises there with the turmoil they faced in 2009), Schering-Plough and pharmaceutical company Wyeth, which was acquired by Pfizer, that did make the list again.

Another company known for its initiatives and efforts in increasing their female leadership ranks in the past but missing from NAFE’s 2010 list was Texas Instruments. Take a look at their submission in our diversity survey. Addressing one of the questions regarding what they are doing to address attrition rates among women and female employees, they said, “[We are working on] strengthening [our] mentoring program for all employees, including minorities and women: TI participates in both internal and external mentoring programs. Formal, internal programs are offered by TI business groups and some of the diversity initiatives. In addition, TI’s Women’s Initiative has developed training offered on a regular basis for self-managed mentoring. We also offer professional skills development programs, including minority and women employees, where each year, TI invests in creating, facilitating and sponsoring a wide variety of development opportunities for employees.

The list isn’t all about the absentees though. There were many that debuted this year that deserve praise for their continued work in mentoring women executives. Some of these included American Electric Power, AT&T and Grant Thornton. However, there were a few that highlighted the diversity of the represented companies. Like public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, that has lately been making inroads into the hot sector of sustainability consulting; consulting firms Hewitt Associates (they received top accolades in our survey as well) and McKinsey & Company, who continue to remain quiet on the diversity front; and PepsiCo, no surprises there, with CEO Indra Nooyi (Read her views on the recession and sustainability) leading the team.

For NAFE’s complete list and survey methodology, visit their Top Companies page.

*Note: These numbers are before their acquisition of EDS last year.

–Posted by Aman Singh, In Good Company

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Written by Linda Petock

March 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

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