Best U.S. companies for working mothers named

NEW YORK Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:57pm EDT

1 of 2. A woman is reflected in a rain puddle along with the Ferry Building following a steady rain in San Francisco, California March 2, 2009.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Working Mother magazine on Tuesday named the best U.S. companies for working mothers, citing those that have kept or expanded family-friendly programs and policies amid the pressures of recession.

Company policies for working mothers are particularly significant as more women become their families' sole wage earners, said Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media.

Men held some three-quarters of the jobs lost in the U.S. recession, which has slammed male-dominated industries such as construction and manufacturing.

The top 10 companies cited were Abbott Laboratories of Abbott Park, Illinois; Bon Secours Richmond Health System in Virginia; Deloitte LLP in New York; Discovery Communications of Silver Spring, Maryland; Ernst & Young of New York; General Mills of Minneapolis; Chicago-based Grant Thornton accounting firm; IBM Corp of Armonk, New York; The McGraw-Hill Cos publishers in New York; and PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors of New York.

"SAFETY NET FOR WORKING MOTHERS"

Working Mother gave special weight to policies of leave, flexibility and benefits, Evans said. It also honored 90 other companies, along with the top ten, all of which are listed online at www.workingmother.com/bestcompanies.

"We wanted to make sure in times like these, we don't lose any ground," Evans said. "I can't imagine anything more critical than having a safety net for working mothers in this kind of economy."

The top companies offer such programs as on-site or back-up child care, career guidance, pipelines for women's advancement, parental leave and job sharing.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has a mentoring program that pairs new mothers with more experienced mothers, while Grant Thornton offers $10,000 in adoption benefits, Evans said.

By comparison, while 98 percent of these companies offer job sharing, only 16 percent of companies do so nationwide, Evans said. Also, 99 percent of these companies offer health insurance for part-time workers but only 35 percent of companies do so nationwide, she said.

Most of the family-friendly policies also are available to employees without children, such as flex-time, she added.

This year's list, the magazine's 24th, showed fewer changes than usual, likely evidence that fewer companies are promoting new family-friendly policies in the down economy, Evans said.

Only five companies changed on the list of 100 from last year, while in more flush times close to 20 companies have been pushed off as others try parent-friendly policies, she said.

The companies were selected on the basis of applications with more than 500 questions on programs and policies. The companies had to have at least 500 employees and government agencies weren't eligible.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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