Top Companies Push Programs to Help Women in the Workplace

Many companies have taken robust steps to advance women in the workplace.

ByABC News
March 2, 2011, 5:32 PM

March 2, 2011 -- With women comprising nearly half of the work force, U.S. companies across the country have taken aggressive steps to ensure they retain women and support their advancement.

A comprehensive White House report released earlier this week found that while women have advanced more than men in educational attainment, they still lag behind their male counterparts in salary, earning on average 80 percent of what a man earns.

Ji Hyun Lee, a freelance writer and blogger in New York City, graduated with a master's degree and went to work for a national magazine as an entry level editorial assistant. She told ABC News that she later learned the other editorial assistant, a male who had only a bachelor's degree, was earning $3,000 more than she was.

"I felt devalued. I felt like I didn't count. I felt inferior to my colleagues," Lee said.

A year later, she quit -- walked right out of the office and never returned. Lee later sued the company for pay inequity and won.

Her story is not unusual, but many circumstances -- such as the fact that women often bear the responsibility of caring for children and aging parents -- contribute to this inequity.

Several companies, such as PwC, whose U.S. work force is 52 percent women, have developed programs to help stem this disparity.

"When it comes to our women within the firm, we want to provide maximum flexibility," Bob Moritz, chairman and senior partner at PwC, told ABC News. "What we're trying to do is create opportunities for them to maximize their professional and their personal choices, and be successful in both."

Like many companies, PwC offers its employees job share options, sabbaticals (during which employees retain benefits) and flex-time schedules, which allow employees to scale back their hours by as much as 60 percent.