Magazine: Top Firms for Working Parents

ByABC News

Sept. 5, 2000 -- While more companies are offering family-friendly options such as on-site child care, such perks designed to help working moms and dads remain the exception — not the norm — in corporate America, according to a new Working Mother magazine survey released today.

As part of the survey, the magazine unveiled its 15th annual list of topemployers that help working parents balance their careers and family life.

“In truth, most of us don’t get these benefits. That’s the downside of this list. The people on our list provide remarkable things, but very few Americans actually have access to this,” Lisa R. Benenson, editor-in-chief of the magazine, told ABCNEWS.

Allstate Tops the Top 10

Among the 100 companies listed in the survey, Working Mother named 10 companies as exceptionally progressive: Allstate Insurance Co.,Bank of America Corp., Eli Lilly and Co., Fannie Mae, IBM Corp.,Lincoln Financial Group, Life Technologies Inc., Merrill Lynch &Co. Inc., Novant Health Inc. and Prudential Financial Services.

IBM has been among the top 10 for 13 years, since the list’sinception — longer than any other company.

The survey of 100 employers also featured some newcomers. Novant Health Inc., based in Winston-Salem, N.C., is among 21 companies on the list for the first time. The health care consortium offers nurses a nine-month work schedule, pet health insurance and roadside assistance plans.

And this year, Working Mother awarded a special award in the smallbusiness category, honoring Sheri Benjamin, CEO of the BenjaminGroup/BSMG Worldwide, a public relations firm. The company helpspay gym membership fees and hosts a Keep Fit program, in whichemployees who’d rather surf or walk instead of joining a gym earnan hourly rate.

The companies were selected based on their family-friendly practices including daycare options among other factors.

Dry Cleaners and More

About 68 percent of the companies selected for the list offer on-site or near site daycare, compared to 10 percent of the workforce, notes magazine editor Benenson.

“It [daycare] works for their families. That’s one of the reasons they’re able to bring in and keep their employees,” Benenson said.

And at Fannie Mae, among the magazine’s top 10 list, the housing finance company offers emergency daycare. If you have a child who’s sick or if something goes wrong with a regular daycare provider, employees can bring in their children, explains Jamie Gorelick at Fannie Mae.

Benenson added some companies now even have eldercare — on-site referral centers to help find employees a nursing home or some other kind of assisted living.

But for some of the top 10 companies, flexible daycare and eldercare services are just some of the myriad of family-friendly options at work.

Fannie Mae, for example, also offers employees on-site dry cleaners, and on-site chefs who prepare meals that can be taken home. Chef Brandon Villi says he makes everything from dinners to children’s lunches, all at competitive prices.

“What we do is we offer a set of services to minimize the hassels in people’s lives,” Gorelick said.

The Bottom Line

While on-site perks are envious, Working Mother magazine editors say the services positively impact companies’ bottom lines.

The companies who make the 100 list “are finding again and again that when they offer these programs, they’re actually saving money,” Benenson said.

“You provide childcare, you get money back because you’re not having to replace an employee who can’t show up one day,” Benenson said, adding it’s no coincidence those firms which made the 100 survey are among the most successful businesses in their respective fields.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.