Women @ Work

Women will succeed in business without special treatment, but organizations that create women-friendly environments are often more collaborative, flexible and adaptive to today’s relationship-oriented, network-run marketplace. They also make more money. A October 2007 Catalyst report found that Fortune 500 companies with more women on their boards outperformed those with the least by 53 percent. The organizations featured here have made engaging the female demographic a priority.


Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, operates a strong diversity and inclusion program and supports the advancement of women throughout its many locations.

Accenture offers a range of programs to its employees, including customized training and education programs such as Leading a Diverse Workforce and the Minority Leadership Development Program. In 2009, the company offered five training sessions in Developing High Performing Women.

Accenture also offers International Women’s Day events, which were conducted in more than 100 locations in 29 countries in 2009; The Accenture Women’s Network, a global online resource for its women around the globe, with local impact, which offers feature stories and discussion boards on topics ranging from work-life integration to stretch roles; and the Accenture Development Partnerships group, which offers employees the opportunity to contribute their time and skills to nonprofit organizations, NGOs, foundations and donor organizations operating in the development sector.

The company has been:

• Ranked among the Top 50 Companies Where Women Want to Work in 2007-2009 by the Times of London.
• Recognized by STPI Karnataka (Software Technology Parks of India) in 2008 for employing the highest percentage of women of any company in the IT industry.
• Included in Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers for the past seven years (2003-2009).


No. of employees: 177,000
Revenue (2008): $23.4 billion
Headquarters: Chicago and New York
Percentage of women: 36%
Percentage of women executives: 15%

Allstate Insurance Co.

Anise Wiley-Little, chief diversity officer at Allstate Insurance Co., said it all starts with the attraction of women. The company’s female representation, currently about 59 percent of the population, stems directly from activities intended to improve the work environment.

For instance, the effects of the recession prompted the organization to offer financial literacy information, provide information on personal budget management, reduce tuition costs for its day care center and increase scholarships and other programs that impact an employee’s work life. Each manager has the ability to negotiate flexibility, but programs like Home-Based Worker, which started last year, set the stage for creativity and paying attention to results, not the location where people physically work.

Wiley-Little said those sorts of things make Allstate an easier place for all people to work, but especially women because of the many things they juggle in their personal and work lives.

The benefits for Allstate include high levels of engaged women who subsequently have a great impact on the work and ultimately on the customer. Studies show that companies with more women in senior leadership and on boards perform better than companies that don’t have that diversity. At Allstate, almost 30 percent of external board members are women, and approximately 45 percent of the women in the employee population have managerial positions.

Allstate Insurance Co.
No. of employees: 38,000
Revenue (2008): $29.4 billion
Headquarters: Northbrook, Ill.
Percentage of women: 59%
Percentage of women executives: 33%

Baxter International Inc.

At Baxter International Inc., a global, diversified health care company, women play an important role in creating an inclusive environment.

“An inclusive organization ensures that company policies, programs, processes and systems support a culture of respect and enable all employees to work together effectively and achieve their career aspirations,” said Jeanne Mason, Baxter corporate vice president of human resources. “We all see things through our own personal lens. If everyone on the team has a similar lens, there’s a chance we’ll overlook an important perspective simply because it’s not represented on the team. The more inclusive and diverse the team, the better the overall output.”

In 2008, Baxter established a Global Inclusion Council, which provides thought leadership, guidance and support to enhance Baxter’s inclusive culture. Cheryl White, Baxter’s corporate vice president for quality, leads the group. She said it’s important for Baxter to have women in leadership positions to provide role models for the next generation of leaders in the organization.

“Employees see that it is possible for everyone to achieve their career aspirations without having to look and act the same,” White said.

In recognition of commitment to inclusion and diversity, Baxter received the Catalyst Award in 2009, which annually recognizes innovative programs that result in the recruitment, development and advancement of women. Also, Baxter was recently recognized by the Great Places to Work Institute as one of the 36 Best Companies for Women to Work in Mexico.

Baxter International Inc.
No. of employees: 48,500
Revenue (2008): $12.3 billion
Headquarters: Deerfield, Ill.
Percentage of women: 53%
Percentage of women executives: 33%

CH2M Hill

In the traditionally male-dominated industry of engineering and construction, CH2M Hill provides a model for leveraging female employees to achieve business success. CH2M Hill’s Constructing Pathways for Women Through Inclusion initiative utilizes the company’s inclusive workplace to accelerate women’s advancement. All employees receive the “Little Yellow Book,” a guide to the organization’s values, designed to support an environment in which diversity, openness and innovation thrive. Expectations for employee behavior, including diversity orientation, are explicit and defined as “work approaches” in the company’s performance management system.

Other important components of Constructing Pathways for Women Through Inclusion include regional women’s networks that provide local learning and mentoring opportunities; Women’s Leadership Summits deliver strategic learning opportunities to a cross section of women leaders; there are informal mentoring and networking opportunities; a formal succession planning process that ensures slates are diverse and include at least one woman or person of color; aggressive recruiting of women and people of color; and substantial involvement by the board of directors’ workforce and diversity committee in developing strategy and policy.