When Clarissa Carpio returned home to San Diego in 2017 after six years of active duty service as a U.S. Navy lieutenant, the newly married, then-28-year-old knew she wanted to start a family and reprieve from a career that required her to be on call 24/7.
Attending a veterans’ career fair, Carpio schmoozed with startups touting dreamy visions and major financial institutions singing the siren call of lofty paychecks. Still, neither offered what Carpio fundamentally needed in a new civilian role—time.
Carpio landed a program management position at the business consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton
“While startup culture seemed exciting and big corporate compensation was alluring, I really cared more about flexibility and ownership of my time,” says Carpio.
Even before the ubiquity of hybrid work spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, Booz Allen offered flexible work arrangements and generous paid leave that supported Carpio’s dream of raising a family, especially since her husband was still active duty Navy until 2020 and often at sea.
“The company has been incredibly supportive throughout all of my life’s transitions…they know your job isn’t your whole life,” says Carpio.
Click here for the full list of The World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies.
Booz Allen’s robust family support benefits and flexible work schedules helped the company land at No. 8 on our second annual ranking of the World’s Top Female–Friendly Companies.
Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to compile the ranking by anonymously surveying approximately 85,000 women working at multinational institutions in 36 countries. Respondents rated how their employer performed across a series of gender-related topics, such as gender equality in career advancement opportunities and parental leave. Additionally, they were asked to evaluate other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively as champions of female professionals.
The final ranking also assessed female representation at the executive and board levels and how companies use their platforms and marketing messaging to promote gender equity. This year’s list comprises the 400 companies that received the highest scores. (See full methodology below.)
Although U.S.-based multinationals make up nearly 50% of our ranking, only six, including Booz Allen Hamilton, made it into our top 20. The findings reveal a stark contrast to Forbes’ recently published World’s Best Employers 2022 ranking, where the U.S. took 12 top 20 spots.
Lorraine Hariton, president & CEO of Catalyst, a global nonprofit accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion, isn’t surprised. She cites the U.S.’s weak federal family leave and childcare policies as credible explanations for its relatively low-ranked representation.
“The U.S. is laggard compared to other countries around the world when it comes to defined laws around labor,” says Hariton, who served at the U.S. Department of State under President Obama. “We don’t have a paid parental law, and this disproportionately affects women, especially women of color, in terms of career advancement, as they are typically the primary caregivers in their households.”
Pamela Stone, a professor emerita of Sociology at Hunter College in New York City and author of Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers, echoes this sentiment. “In my research, even when a man makes less than a woman in a household, the woman still takes the lead in child-rearing or caring for an elderly parent or sick relative,” says Stone. “Ultimately, there should be a more egalitarian division of non-paid labor, but for now, in our current reality, women need and want more control over their hours to succeed in both of these roles. U.S. laws don’t currently support this the way other countries do.”
The U.S. does not guarantee federal paid maternity or family leave. And while American women make up about half of the workforce, full-time female employees in the U.S. were paid 83 cents on the dollar in 2021 compared with men, and for every 100 men promoted from entry-level to manager, just 87 women and 82 women of color are similarly promoted.
French companies, including insurance firm MAIF (No. 3) and bioMérieux (No. 14), a diagnostic leader, secured 55 spots, the most after the U.S., followed by the U.K. with 30, including retail outfits John Lewis Partnership (No. 5) and Sainsbury’s (No. 27.) Last December, France adopted a new law, Loi Rixain, that imposes quotas for female representation in leadership positions of large corporations. Unequal pay is unlawful in the U.K. and is covered under the 2010 Equality Act.
Retail and wholesale was the highest represented industry in our ranking, with U.S. retailers Clorox
Advancing Women ‘More Than A Box To Check’
Claiming our No. 1 spot is dark horse Grupo Argos. The Colombian conglomerate, with $3.2 billion in revenue in 2021 and investments in traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction, energy and engineering, previously ranked No. 100 in 2021. The company is the only one in our ranking headquartered in Colombia.
Michelle Bordin Bez, the company’s director of Talent and Organizational Development, credits its high rank to Grupo Argos’ intentional focus on DEI practices that are actionable rather than performative.
“Diversity and inclusion, especially when it comes to advancing women in sectors traditionally occupied by men, is more than a box to check or a nice to have,” says Bordin, who’s been with the company for over six years. “We’re constantly thinking of ways to expand DEI and intently measuring our progress because we deeply understand that it makes our business better and more successful.”
Last year, the company made a commitment that by 2030, senior management will be composed of no less than 35% women. Today the board is majority female, and women hold 50% of senior management roles.
The company also offers job training programs for internal employees and the broader community in countries where it has operations, including Colombia, Panama, Honduras, the Caribbean and U.S., to create diverse talent pipelines.
Click here for the full list of The World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies.
Like our other high-ranking companies, Grupo Argos offers sweeping paid leave policies and flex work benefits.
“Studies repeatedly show that offering flexibility around when and how someone works make employees not only happier but more productive,” says Hariton. “It’s most impactful for women, but I like to say workplaces that work for women work for everyone. As the U.S. government is slow in mandating federal policies to support this, companies have a real opportunity to set this standard.”
Angela Reddock-Wright, an employment mediator and attorney in Los Angeles, agrees that money is not enough to retain top talent, particularly during “The Great Resignation” era, where employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs in droves.
“Great employers understand that employees, especially women and women of color who stand to benefit the most, who are committed to responsibilities beyond their career such as being a good family member or a good contributor to society, doesn’t negate their commitment to their job,” says Reddock-Wright who’s been practicing law for 20 years. “Companies that think about the whole person in this way and have programs that demonstrate it in action stand to not only survive but thrive in the modern world.”
To determine the 2022 ranking, Statista surveyed 85,000 women from 36 countries working for multinational corporations. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to openly share their opinions. Respondents were asked to rate their employers’ performance on gender-related criteria, such as “Men and women have the same opportunities for advancement” and their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family.
They were also asked to evaluate other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively.
The final ranking also took into account a company’s overall corporate responsibility and public perception related to gender equality as well as objective criteria, including female representation on corporate boards and executive ranks. The 400 companies that received the highest total scores made the final list.
Some goals still need to be achieved, and gender-based pay and overall equality gaps have been identified in several companies on the list. Employees, investors, and the public demand greater transparency on this topic. We continue to take this into account.
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