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NATIONAL REPORT — The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) announced this year’s winners for its Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. As one of the country’s largest associations for women professionals and business owners, NAFE releases the list annually to honor American corporations that identify, promote and nurture successful women.
Among this year’s winners are eight convenience store industry suppliers, including:
American Express has collaborated with the Center for Talent Innovation to conduct research on how women get ahead since 2009. Its initial findings led it to launch the seminal Pathways to Sponsorship program, which offers coaching and classroom training. That same year, with the assistance of the program, nearly 70 percent of participating female executives have since been promoted or made lateral moves. The company continues to renew its commitment to examining how it can help women create sustainable, meaningful careers. It has also introduced a dozen “Lean In” mentoring circles in cities nationwide.
Diageo North America
This is the fourth time NAFE has selected Diageo for the Top 50 list. Diageo composes its strategic approach to hiring and focusing on long-term development in many ways. The company offers early-career initiatives for new associates and encourages them to learn about the business by engaging in nationwide job rotations.
Diageo also offers a number of programs for its employees. Its Future Leaders program provides managers with developing assignments and up to two years’ work abroad, while the Leaders 4 Growth Initiative employs “stretch” planning and one-on-one coaching to prepare directors for vice president roles. The Transcend Leadership Mentoring Program promotes the development and retention of diverse employees by providing a formal program to enhance professional and personal growth. Diageo’s Spirited Women’s Network employee resource group hosts regular networking receptions and career talks by female Diageo executives to inspire others and encourage diversity within the company.
General Mills has been conducting a two-year review to identify particular reasons why tenures are long for female executives at the company. Its ultimate aim is to better address the needs of its employees, which could lead the company to introduce personalized training, coaching or sponsorship opportunities.
Its Women in Leadership group (composed of senior executives) has a similar goal in mind and regularly discusses with management about female employees' advancement and work life satisfaction. Recently, the group held a development conference for female officers.
Johnson & Johnson Co.
The company’s Executive Forum — introduced in 2013 — is made up of 100 female leaders and is a high-level resource group through which members work to accelerate their careers, sponsor junior women, connect with the executive committee and open doors for its recent recruits. The Executive Forum is a branch of the company’s 20-year-old program, the Women’s Leadership Initiative. The initiative has 50 chapters nationwide and maintains special segments dedicated to advancing female directors and managers in supply chain, finance, information technology and procurement.
The new Multicultural Leadership Development Program provides business education for men and women of color to raise their visibility with participating execs and boost retention.
With four women on its board of directors (38 percent of the board), and eight women holding spots on the company’s Global Leadership Team, this is the second consecutive year that Kellogg has been named to the Top 50 list and the fourth time it's receiving the recognition since 2009.
In its initiatives for diversity, the company’s senior leaders’ bonuses are impacted by their ability to hire, retain and promote female employees with particular emphasis on those at the manager level and above. Additionally, annual talent reviews closely examine the demographic composition of the company’s executive ranks.
Kraft Foods Group
[email protected] is a quarterly discussion series in which academic experts and industry pros provide valuable insight into career advancement and development. During these events, attendees engage in speed-networking activities with top female leaders, or take part in formal coaching sessions with their direct managers. Additionally, the employer’s six-month Leadership Powerhouse program helps executives to innovate, inspire others and expand their networks. In 2013, 58 percent of the program’s participants were female.
The company’s Executive Leadership Program invites high-level participants to develop a path for the business, refine their leadership skills, expand their networks and define its investment in the company’s future. A new program, the Women in Technology initiative, engages employees in supporting national technology events and teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses like coding and computer science for girls.
Procter & Gamble
Leaders’ willingness to acknowledge — and work around — employees’ goals in trying times has helped this company report that 30 percent of its senior executives are female (up from 15 percent in 2000). Management’s support at such times has helped many women achieve success. For example, Mary Lynn Ferguson-McHugh, group president for Western Europe, was named to lead an international business just as her baby’s adoption came through, and Carolyn Tastad, global customer business development officer, found out she was pregnant weeks after a big promotion and big move.
The 2015 Top Companies for Executive Women application included more than 200 questions about female representation at all levels, especially the corporate officer and profit-and-loss ranks. The vetting process included tracking access and usage of programs and policies that promote the advancement of women, as well as the training and accountability of managers in relation to the number of women who advance.
In order to be eligible for the annual NAFE survey, entrants must have a minimum of 1,000 employees, two women on the board of directors, and be a public or private company.