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New Ranking Names Best Companies For Women

The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) has released its annual ranking of best workplaces for women, tracking how larger firms (ones with 1,000+ employees) are doing in recruiting, hiring, and retaining women workers, as well as supporting their efforts to reach executive roles.

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"People tune women out and why do they do that?" NAFE president Betty Spence tells Forbes. "That's a cultural thing and it's probably a universal thing." That means a vast swath of human potential is remaining untapped and unrecognized - at fact to which, it seems, some leading firms are waking up.

Inclusive hiring practices also benefit the bottom line. Research has shown embracing females in leadership roles is lucrative: according to a recent study, "companies with 30% female executives rake in as much as six percentage points more in profits, feeding into a global debate over the scarcity of women in decision-making business roles."

Here are some of our faves from the NAFE list of Nest Businesses for Women - for the full list, click here.

1. Abbott

"Getting hired by this healthcare company can be a game-changer for women," writes NAFE of Abbott, which has an Emerging Leader Program aimed at encouraging high-potential female employees in front-line leadership, and offering transition coaching to help them acclimate to key roles: "It enabled me to be effective from the start," says Agnes Ortega, division vice president, Compliance and Operations.

2. Johnson & Johnson

The health care company created an Executive Forum for its top 100 female leaders to accelerate their careers, sponsor junior women, and open doors for recent recruits. "By embedding diversity and inclusion into our business, including strategic planning, we help ensure that we serve patients and customers in ways that best meet their needs," the company states. For 20 years, Johnson & Johnson has run a Women's Leadership Initiative with 50 chapters nationwide. Plus, the new Multicultural Leadership Development Program provides business education for men and women of color.

3. PWC

The professional services firm has zeroed in on the importance of drawing women under 35: they're increasingly reaching out to millennial workers, creating a leadership series for female college students, and even debuting a blog on gender issues. At the same time, PWC offers benefits that speak to employees of all ages: alternative scheduling arrangements, customized career tracks, sponsorship initiatives and mentoring circles. "The firm has relationships with more than a dozen organizations devoted to advancing women," writes NAFE.

4. L'Oreal

Appropriately, for a company that's all about making women look good, gender parity looks good on L'Oreal: with a workforce of 65 percent women, gender parity in its upper ranks is serious business: "Carol Hamilton, president of luxury products, and Karen Fondu, President of L'Oréal Paris, head half of all segments worth $1-billion or more," writes NAFE. Management offers mentoring, coaching and leadership programs, with multiple women's think tanks charting new paths across the company.

5. Aetna

This diversified health benefits company has rolled out a number of advancement and empowerment initiatives for women. Shortly after moving into his role, president and CEO Mark Bertolini "also increased the amount by which his executive committee's compensation would be impacted by the company's performance on diversity and inclusion metrics," writes NAFE.: Today, nearly 50 percent of Aetna's top earners are women: many others are refining their leadership skills with a year-long program and three-day intensive event called Strategies for Success.


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