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What Working Mother magazine won’t tell you: Global gender gap

November 10, 2007 | Advertising,Economics,Ethics,Family,Health,Journalism,Politics,PR,Work,Working Mother


If things are going so well for American working mothers, why did the United States fall from 23rd place to 31st place on the Global Gender Report?

Posted by Becky @ 10:26 am | 2 Comments  

What Working Mother magazine won’t tell you: Work/life balance not so important to companies

November 8, 2007 | Benefits,Ethics,Family,PR,Work,Working Mother


In an August 2007 survey, 89 percent of employees polled said work/life balance programs are important. Employers? Not so much. About half of the human-resources professionals polled considered them important, according to the 2007 Monster Work/Life Balance Survey.

The online survey included 506 HR professionals and 830 employees. While the survey is not scientific, the results illustrate a wide gap between what employees and employers consider important, despite all the public relations surrounding work/life balance. Maybe it’s a bit like the gap between what Corporate Voices for Working Families says it considers important in theory and what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows what it considers important in practice.

Posted by Becky @ 4:07 pm | Comments  

Are you free for lunch Nov. 15?

November 5, 2007 | Audience participation,Blogland games,Books,Ethics,Family,Parenting,PR,Work,Working Mother



Here’s what you do.

  • 1) Register for the teleconference. (It’s free.)
  • 2) Leave a comment or e-mail me so I can add you to the list.
  • 3) Call on Nov. 15.
  • 4) Blog your reaction, and send me the link. (If you don’t have a blog, you can guest post here.)
  • 5) Win the book! (I’ll draw a name at random.)

Join us, won’t you?

Corporate Voices for Working Families says it focuses on “Five Pillars of Work,” 1) Afterschool Care and Early Childhood Education, 2) Youth Transitions, 3) Mature Workforce, 4) Flexibility and 5) Lower Wage Work.

Members of Corporate Voices are companies affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through their local chambers. The Chamber, which ranks first in lobbying spending ($72.7 million in 2006), holds this position on labor and workforce:

Oppose expanding workplace laws and craft alternatives when necessary. Aggressively oppose union-backed proposals to increase the minimum wage and abolish secret ballot elections in favor of card check majorities for union recognition. Oppose any efforts to expand Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave or mandate paid sick leave. Block attempts to increase penalties for criminal violations of OSHA. Continue to expose unreasonable union organization tactics such as salting and corporate campaigns. Protect the use of binding arbitration in employment. Aggressively advocate for pro-employer provisions in priority international labor and employment policy proposals. Continue to push for a reasonable application of the revised Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines.

The U.S. Chamber believes NCLB is one of the critical tools needed to transform U.S. education so that all students graduate academically prepared for college, citizenship, and the 21st century workplace.

  • The Chamber supported the presidential veto of SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program).
  • The Chamber opposes a bill that would give employees seven paid sick days each year. More here.

What will they say about you? Tune in and find out.

Posted by Becky @ 7:16 pm | 14 Comments  

What Working Mother magazine and WSJ’s Work & Family columnist won’t tell you

October 15, 2007 | Advertising,Blogging,Ethics,Family,Journalism,MSM,PR,Work,Working Mother


I mentioned that TIME published an article questioning the Working Mother magazine “100 best” list, but I didn’t get around to adding that WSJ.com questioned the list too. Sara Schaefer Muñoz of The Juggle posted “Do Family-Friendly Companies Live Up to Their Claim?” on Sept. 25, 2007.

Nine days later, The Wall Street Journal‘s Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenbarger wrote “What Makes a Company A Great Place to Work Today” (on the same page as the “soft” benefits article) on Oct. 4, 2007.

Shellenbarger (who was named one of America’s “25 Most Influential Working Mothers” by Working Mother magazine in 1997, according to a lecture bio) started with, “Tis the season for workplace rankings, with ‘best-workplace’ lists sprouting everywhere this fall,” and she mentioned Working Mother magazine’s list, as well as Business Week‘s “Best Places to Launch a Career” list. Then she broke it into “what’s hot” and “what’s not” categories.


Flexibility. She mentioned AstraZeneca, where “more than two-thirds of the 30 employees in a medical-resources group are regular users of alternative setups tailored to their needs.” (That’s 20 employees.) Which is odd because Working Mother said 90 percent of employees at the main office — almost 2,700 employees — worked some sort of flexible schedule. In any case, neither Working Mother nor Shellenbarger offered more details.

She wrote that in Abbott‘s office in Ohio, “75 percent of 108 employees are on flexible work setups and the rest have day-to-day flexibility.” That’s 81 employees.

Broader programs. She wrote that Pfizer and The Phoenix Cos. added paid paternity leave. Working Mother did not mention this about Phoenix on its list, but it did spell it out for Pfizer, which is actually impressive, relatively speaking, with 35 weeks of maternity leave (15 fully paid) for mothers and 26 weeks of paid leave for fathers and adoptive parents (six weeks fully paid). Even so, it’s still a far cry from what Pfizer employees in Norway and Sweden get.

Vacation time. She mentioned that at Xerox (not a Working Mother “100 best” company), employees can buy an extra vacation week.

Wait. That’s hot?

According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research‘s May 2007 “No-Vacation Nation” report, the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid leave.

Here’s a chart from that report.


Xerox has employees in every country listed on the chart, meaning its employees in those countries get up to seven weeks paid leave (vacation and holidays) — guaranteed by law. Xerox employees in the United States buy vacation days.

Whew. Somebody open a window. That’s smokin’ hot.

This really deserves its own post, but since she mentioned Shellenbarger by name, I’ll put it here. Former Working Mother magazine editor Lisa Benenson gave publicity tips to corporate benefits managers at a Diversity Roundtable, called “A Journalist’s Perspective: Making the Grade Matters,” in 2002. (Benenson is now editor-in-chief of Hallmark Magazine, giving lessons on the TODAY show about “what flowers say.”)

What does it take to get a Sue Shellenbarger to laud your company in The Wall Street Journal … More importantly, why does it matter?

She referred to journalists who cover work/life issues as “some of your most important advocates.”

The end result of making any of the “Best Of” lists is a bountiful supply of positive news coverage that reflects well on the company, its leadership and employees. The companies that make a top 10 list get incredible publicity. There is nothing like it. There are thousands of media hits all across the country. You just get huge press coverage and recognition for the good work that you’re doing.

Benenson encouraged participants to “seriously consider subjecting their operations to the close scrutiny of journalistic investigation.”

Journalistic investigation? By whom?

Posted by Becky @ 5:23 pm | 2 Comments  

Working Mother “100 best” company is R-O-C-K-in-the-USA

October 1, 2007 | Advertising,Family,PR,Work,Working Mother

Or you might say … it “loves me like a rock.”

Who do …

Who do you think you’re fooling?


Magpie Musing got it in the mail. Go see what she has to say about it.

Sorry. Can’t leave the “rock” song thing alone. Then there’s Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me). If you forgot the tune, check this out. Then … sing away. (Just pretend it rhymes and has clever, witty lines to break things up. Or add your own.) Whee!

Abbott Accenture AEP Allstate Arnold & Porter AstraZeneca Bank of America Baptist Health South Florida Bayer BlueCross BlueShield Bon Secours Richmond Health System Booz Allen Hamilton Bristol-Myers Squibb Bronson Capital One Cardinal Health Carlson Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Children’s Memorial Hospital Chrysler Cisco Systems Citi CJW Medical Center Colgate-Palmolive Cornell University Covington & Burling Credit Suisse Daszkal Bolton Deloitte Discovery Communications Dow Chemical Dow Corning DuPont Eli Lilly Ernst & Young FannieMae First Horizon National First National Bank of Omaha Ford Motor Co. Genentech General Electric General Mills GlaxoSmithKline GoldmanSachs Grant Thornton Harvard University Hewlett-Packard IBM Inova Health Systems Intel Johnson & Johnson JPMorgan Chase Katten Muchin Rosenman KPMG Kraft Foods Lehman Brothers Marriott International Massachusetts General Hospital MassMutual The McGraw-Hill Companies McKinsey & Company Merck Mercy Health System Merrill Lynch MetLife Microsoft Morgan Stanley Northern Michigan Regional Health System Northern Trust Northwestern Memorial Healthcare Novartis Patagonia Pearson Pfizer Phoenix Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Pitt County Memorial Hospital PNC PricewaterhouseCoopers Principal Financial Prudential Financial Rodale RSM McGladrey SC Johnson Sanofi-Aventis Shering-Plough Scripps Health Texas Instruments Timberland TriHealth Turner Broadcasting UBS University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Verizon Wireless VCU Health System Wachovia West Virginia University Hospitals Wyeth Yale-New Haven Hospital

Hat tip: Chewy

Posted by Becky @ 7:37 pm | Comments  

Will you let Working Mother magazine speak for you?

September 30, 2007 | Advertising,Family,Parenting,PR,Work,Working Mother


Will you let Working Mother, Abbott, and two organizations of corporations speak to U.S. policymakers for you?

Working Mother, Abbott, Corporate Voices for Working Familes and the International Formula Council will hold a teleconference on Nov. 15 to discuss public policy, advocacy and working mothers.

An example of an issue important to them:

… some states are considering proposals to restrict the information new mothers receive about infant feeding options.

An Abbott publication called “Ensuring Optimal Infant Nutrition: A Shared Responsibility,” says that “92 percent of mothers approve of the distribution of infant formula samples,” according to an August 2002 survey conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates with Wirthlin Worldwide. It doesn’t, however, provide details of the survey. How many mothers participated in the survey? Ten? Twenty? One hundred? We have no idea, and the survey is not available online. What they intend to do with this survey is to say, hey, why all the fuss about advertising for infant formula? They want to fight laws that ban or restrict their ability to sell formula.

Does this top your list of important issues as a working mother? Or do you have other ideas about what’s important to you and your family? If you’d like to hear what these groups plan to say to policymakers on your behalf, why not register and participate in the teleconference?

Mark your calendar: Nov. 15, 2007, noon-1 p.m., Raise Your Voice: Advocating for Better Working Family Policy

Posted by Becky @ 3:22 pm | 2 Comments  

This is for Arwen … cheers!

September 27, 2007 | Ethics,Family,Journalism,Parenting,PR,Work,Working Mother


From the Working Mother October 2007 issue, “You’re Cut Off,” p. 104

One day last spring, Lorie Baker walked into her home office just outside Annapolis, Md., and logged on to her computer to catch up on a bit of work. As the mother of twin daughters and a director in the advisory practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (“I’m a type A person, and I work in a type A company”), she struggles to fit in everything she feels she needs to get done. So she’d often log in to the work system on her days off, stealing whatever moments she could.

On this occasion, as she stared at her computer screen, something unexpected happened. An official-looking pop-up appeared, beginning with this simple declaration: “It’s the weekend.” What happened next was nothing short of an aha experience.

“I actually asked myself, ‘What am I doing on my PC? Can’t this wait until Monday?'” Lorie recalls. She turned the computer off, gathered her girls — Allison and Amanda, 7 — and headed straight for the swing set at the park. “It really was a stark wake-up call that the weekends are so valuable,” she says.

Sure. It could happen.



But seriously. Do these “programs” elicit such a breathless, dewy-eyed response in real life? Really?

Posted by Becky @ 5:57 pm | 2 Comments  

What Working Mother magazine won’t tell you, part 1

Ethics,Family,Journalism,PR,Work,Working Mother


The Work, Family, and Equity Index, published by the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University and the Project on Global Working Families. The report studied and compared 177 countries, finding that the United States does well regarding an equitable right to work and guaranteeing time-and-a-half for overtime. The United States, however, lags behind all high-income countries and even many medium- and low-income countries, especially regarding 1) leave around childbearing, 2) breastfeeding support, 3) work hours and 4) leave for illness and family care.

Of 173 countries studied for this topic, 169 countries offer guaranteed leave with income to women in connection with childbirth; 98 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks paid leave. Although in a number of countries many women work in the informal sector, where these government guarantees do not always apply, the United States guarantees no paid leave for mothers in any segment of the work force, leaving it in the company of only three other nations: Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.

  • Fathers in 66 countries get paid paternity leave or have a right to paid parental leave; 31 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave. The United States guarantees fathers neither paid paternity nor paid parental leave.
  • At least 107 countries protect working women’s right to breastfeed; in at least 73 of these the breaks are paid. The United States does not guarantee the right to breastfeed.
  • At least 137 countries mandate paid annual leave; 121 countries guarantee two weeks or more each year. The United States does not.
  • At least 134 countries have laws that fix the maximum length of the workweek. The United States does not have a maximum length of the workweek or a limit on mandatory overtime per week.
  • While only 28 countries have restrictions or prohibitions on night work, 50 countries have government-mandated evening and night wage premiums. The United States neither restricts nor guarantees wage premiums for night work.
  • At least 126 countries require employers to provide a mandatory day of rest each week. The United States does not.
  • At least 145 countries provide paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses, with 136 providing a week or more annually. More than 81 countries provide sickness benefits for at least 26 weeks or until recovery. The United States provides only unpaid leave for serious illnesses through the FMLA, which does not cover all workers.
  • At least 49 countries guarantee leave for major family events such as marriage or funerals; in 40 of these countries, leave for one or both of these family events is paid.

According to its 2004 report:

  • The United States is tied with Ecuador and Suriname for 39th place regarding enrollment in early childhood care and education for 3- to 5-year-olds. Almost all European countries perform better and a range of developing and transitioning countries — despite being poorer — had higher enrollment rates than the United States.
  • Employer-sponsored childcare in the United States is available to only one in eight employees.

It is legal in most states for employers to discriminate against American mothers.

While illegal, American women deal with pregnancy discrimination every day. (Just in case you don’t think it happens, here’s a lawsuit filed by an employee who was fired in December 2005, two weeks after telling her employer she was pregnant.)

The only way for American women to get a chance at guaranteed affordable, high-quality child care is to join the military.

Women still earn less than men do, and mothers earn less than anyone.

Many of the “benefits” and “perks” offered by the “100 best” companies are completely voluntary and certainly not permanent. Time to slash 2,000 jobs or cut the budget? Let’s cut [insert family-friendly benefit].

While many of the companies offer six weeks of paid maternity leave here or a lactation room there, not one of the companies measures up to what’s required of employers in much of the rest of the world. While Working Mother compares the “100 best” to other U.S. companies (click on “Download a snapshot of how the 100 Best compare to all the rest”), it fails to mention that many of the “100 best” operate in Canada, Norway and Sweden — for example — and, by law, must provide employees in those countries with some of the most generous and comprehensive benefits in the world. That’s not required in the United States, though. Instead, some of the things Working Mother cites as cool “benefits” American employees might get, depending where they work:

  • Yoga or exercise classes
  • Meditation classes
  • Knitting classes
  • Surfing lessons
  • Massage therapy
  • Stress-management counseling or stress seminars
  • Financial-planning advice and/or tax software
  • Online support groups
  • A diaper bag
  • Event-planning service
  • First-aid classes
  • A parenting kit
  • A pop-up window that tells employees who fire up their work computers on Saturday or Sunday that, “It’s the weekend.”
Posted by Becky @ 4:22 pm | 4 Comments  

Know your Working Mother press releases

September 25, 2007 | Ethics,Family,Journalism,Parenting,PR,Work,Working Mother


Along with a media kit (for advertising in the coming year, natch), Working Mother apparently provides canned press-release text for each of the winning companies. It goes like this.

Headline: [Insert company name] Named to Working Mother ‘100 Best Companies’ List

[Insert dateline] Sept. 25 — For the [insert number] consecutive year, [insert company name] ([insert NYSE link]) has been named one of the “100 Best Companies” by Working Mother magazine, the company announced today. [Optional sentence, if applies] In 2006, [insert company name] was inducted into the Working Mother Hall of Fame in recognition of its [insert number] consecutive year on the list.

“Every year our winning companies raise the bar for what it means to be an employer of choice for working families,” said Carol Evans, CEO and President, Working Mother Media. “[Insert company name] not only offers essential benefits like flextime and telecommuting — they go above and beyond with a range of best practices and policies to ease the difficulties for working parents and their families. Their supportive culture makes a huge difference to employees who want to be great moms and great workers.”

Added Suzanne Riss, Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine, “As a working mother myself, I understand how absolutely essential it is for companies to find ways to nurture the personal and professional lives of employees. I commend [insert company name here] for conceiving and effectively implementing programs and benefits that offer an inspiring paradigm for the rest of corporate America: it is possible to be both family-friendly and financially successful.”

Working Mother measures and scores companies in seven areas when compiling its list of the best companies for mothers: workforce profile, compensation, child care, flexibility, time off and leaves, family-friendly programs, and company culture. Profiled in the October issue, [insert company name] fosters an environment and culture that recognizes the professional and personal needs of all employees — including working mothers.

[Insert company name] was selected for the 2007 Working Mother 100 Best Companies based on an extensive application of 575 questions. The application included detailed questions about workforce, compensation, child-care and flexibility programs, leave policies, and more. It also checked the usage, availability and tracking of programs, as well as the accountability of managers who oversee them. Seven areas were measured and scored: workforce profile, compensation, child care, flexibility, time off and leaves, family-friendly programs, and company culture. For this year’s 100 Best, particular weight was given to flexibility and family-friendly policies.

“We are proud and honored to be included in the Working Mother ‘100 Best Companies’ list again this year,” said [insert name, title and department]. “[Insert company name] is committed to attracting, developing, and retaining talented individuals, and we are pleased that the success of our efforts is once again recognized by Working Mother.”

For example, [insert company name] offers a number of attractive options to help employees balance their professional lives with their personal responsibilities. Today, many women find it difficult to return to the workforce after having children — or staying out of the workforce longer than expected.(1) [Insert option reference.]

“At [insert company name], more than [insert percentage] of our employees are women, so we have a vested interest in encouraging them to return to work after having children — and facilitating that process,” [insert name] said. [Insert company name] has seen significant improvement in its employees’ work/life balance by offering flexible work schedules, including [insert example, such as telecommuting, job-sharing, and flextime]. In addition, employees have access to [insert another example, such as company-sponsored on- or near-site child care centers]. [Insert other examples].

One of the themes of the October issue of Working Mother is benefit equity: at the 100 Best, benefits are available to everyone — from the top executives to hourly-wage earners. To illustrate that point, the issue features a profile of [insert carefully selected success story, title, work location].

[Insert company name] also offers a number of development programs for its female employees, including [insert program name].

In addition to recognition by Working Mother, [insert company name] has also earned [insert names of other awards].

About Working Mother

Founded in 1979, Working Mother magazine reaches nearly 3 million readers and is the only national magazine for career mothers. Its 22-year signature initiative, Working Mother 100 Best Companies, is the most important benchmark for work/life practices in corporate America. The publication also releases the annual list of the Best Companies for Multicultural Women in the June issue. Working Mother is published by Working Mother Media (WMM), which also owns the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), NAFE Magazine, the annual 100 Best Companies WorkLife Congress, as well as the Best Companies for Multicultural Women Conference and regional Town Halls. In 2006, WMM acquired Diversity Best Practices, the preeminent organization for diversity thought leaders.

About [insert company name, information and link].

Editor’s Note: For more information on the 2007 Working Mother 100 Best Companies and for a complete list of winners, visit www.workingmother.com.

(1) McGrath M, Driscoll M, Gross M. “Back in the Game — Returning to Business After a Hiatus: Experiences and Recommendations for Women, Employers, and Universities.” Wharton Center for Leadership and Change. June 2005.



General Mills


Goldman Sachs

The McGraw-Hill Companies

Verizon Wireless

P.S. Internet search hits are up to 364 368.

Posted by Becky @ 10:37 pm | 3 Comments  

Questions arise in MSM about Working Mother list

Ethics,Family,Journalism,Motherhood,MSM,Parenting,PR,Work,Working Mother


Working Mother posted its 2007 list online. Magazines probably won’t hit newsstands for a while, but press releases are out in full force. A search this morning for the magazine’s best 100 companies for 2007 got 200 hits.

TIME published an article yesterday, raising skepticism about this list.

Here’s an article I wrote about last year’s list. I haven’t read through the whole 2007 list yet, but the names look familiar, which means I probably just need to update last year’s article instead of starting from scratch.

Hat tip for the TIME article: Devra

Posted by Becky @ 9:56 am | 2 Comments  


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