When it comes to grooming women executives, not all firms are created equal

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Several financial services giants rank among the top 10 companies for executive women, says a new report from the National Association For Female Executives.

The rankings were based on factors including applicants’ internal advancement initiatives for women, their workplace profile and company culture. They indicate that Bank of America, KPMG, Prudential Financial, TIAA-CREF and State Farm Insurance are all cream-of-the-crop employers for executive-level women.

Lower down in the rankings, NAFE’s top 50 chosen firms for female executives included Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Northern Trust, the Principal Financial Group, MetLife, MassMutual Financial, New York Life Insurance Company, Chubb Group and PNC Financial.

At these top 50 firms, women represented an average 53 percent of the workforce at the time they submitted information to NAFE between December 2010 and October 2011. The survey spans 16 industries at over 48,000 work sites across the country.

Interestingly, all managers at the NAFE Top 10 are trained to manage work-life issues and flexible work arrangements.

What the Top 10 have in common

  • Ninety percent of managers are required to receive training on how to hire, advance or manage women.
  • Seventy percent of firms have formal compensation policies rewarding managers who help women advance.
  • All managers are provided training on flexible work arrangements.
  • Ninety percent of companies conducts company-wide surveys to detect gender inequalities in pay.
  • All companies maintain a program to resolve wage-gap grievances.

Besides those characteristics, most of the NAFE top 50 companies for women have:

  • At least one woman on  the audit committees
  • At least one woman on their compensation committee
  • The NAFE Top 50 continue to outpace the Fortune 500 on representation of women at the executive level, new report states, observing that 22 percent of executive officers at its winning companies are women, versus 14 percent at Fortune 500 firms.
  • Recent turnover lowered the number of female CEOs at the NAFE top 50 companies, which now numbers five total, or 10 percent this year from 14 percent in 2011. Among the Fortune 500 companies, that figure was 3.6 percent in October 2011, NAFE reports.

While each of the top 50 companies offers a range of management or leadership training services to female employees, the advancement program with the highest female usage right now is career counseling. Female participation in every one of the advancement programs increased from 2011 levels, with the percentage of women getting career counseling where it’s available almost doubling to 38 percent from 20 percent between 2011 and 2012.

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