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February 03, 2003
Avon Tops List of Best Companies for Exec. Women
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It's getting easier for women to find companies where they can succeed, according to the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), which announced the "Top 30 Companies for Executive Women."

For the fifth consecutive year, Avon Products excels as the best company for women, with the highest numbers of women board members, corporate officers and top earners.

The top ten companies for women also include Scholastic, Liz Claiborne, Wellpoint, Fannie Mae, Golden West, Prudential, New York Times, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

"This year, we find a great diversity in the types of companies offering women the best shot," says NAFE President Dr. Betty Spence.. "From technology to pharmaceuticals to publishing, the 'Top 30' are tapping women for senior positions, and have the best practices to get them there. The companies actively work to retain their women by offering opportunities to grow and advance and a work culture where they can prosper and have a life," says Spence.

However, women continue to get short shrift in the area of pay equity, despite their increasing numbers in senior jobs, according to NAFE. The SEC, which requires public companies to report their five top earners, shows only 16 of NAFE's "Top 30" companies with at least one woman in the top paid. Scholastic is the sole company where women best men as top earners.

Women make up 28 percent of top earners in the top ten companies on the NAFE list, but the percentage drops to 14.7 percent in the entire "Top 30" - still much higher than the 5.2 percent at the Fortune 500 reported by Catalyst. "Some women are getting paid equitably at America's top companies for women, but we're not there yet," says Spence. "Companies that want to be magnets for women need to re-assess their pay policies."

This year, NAFE counted the number of women in line positions - the operating jobs with profit and loss (P&L) responsibility that serve as pipeline to the corner office. Among the top ten, women hold 35 percent of line jobs, a marked improvement from 9.9 percent at the Fortune 500 (Catalyst). Liz Claiborne and Scholastic are the only companies with more women than men in senior operations positions. Companies that stand out: All of IBM's top women hold operating jobs; at the New York Times, women are responsible for bringing in 98 percent of revenue; and Wellpoint created a program that trains and moves women into P&L jobs in 12-18 months.

Companies on the "Top 30" must demonstrate at least two women on the board, a steadily increasing number of women in senior management, programs that groom women for upper management, maternity/paternity leave, and flextime.

Trends noted by NAFE this year: more companies survey employees and actually implement suggestions. And more companies are linking managers' salary and bonus to their advancing women. Prudential gives a Work/Life Award to employees who produce "while being personally accomplished." Going the extra mile, Hewlett-Packard created a position solely dedicated to bringing in new women.

The 2003 "Top 30 Companies for Executive Women":

1) Avon, New York, NY
2) Scholastic, New York, NY
3) Liz Claiborne, North Bergen, NJ
4) WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA
5) Fannie Mae, Washington DC
6) Golden West, Oakland, CA
7) Prudential Financial Group, Newark, NJ
8) New York Times, New York, NY
9) Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA
10) IBM, Armonk, NY
11) Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, OH
12) Compuware, Farmington Hills, MI(a)
13) Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, IA
14) Aetna, Hartford, CT
15) Washington Mutual Inc., Seattle, WA
16) Charles Schwab, San Francisco, CA
17) Target, Minneapolis, MN
18) Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ
19) Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL
20) Gannett, McLean, VA
21) USAA, San Antonio, TX(a)
22) DuPont, Wilmington, DE(a)
23) Lincoln Financial Group, Philadelphia, PA
24) Sallie Mae, Reston, VA
25) TIAA-CREF, New York, NY
26) Eastman Kodak, Rochester, NY(a)
27) Verizon, New York, NY(a)
28) Bristol-Myers Squibb, New York, NY
29) Office Depot, Delray Beach, FL(a)
30) Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

(a) New to the list this year

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