2 Md. companies on list of Top 100 for working mothers



October 03, 2007|By HANAH CHO

I love making lists, mostly of the endless things I need to get done.

So do companies and organizations. There are dozens of lists for practically everything from food to movies to fill in your choice here.

Every year, Working Mother magazine compiles a list of the Top 100 best employers for working mothers.

Companies are recognized for family-friendly programs, including flextime and leave policies. This year's list features many Fortune 500 companies that have been past recipients.

Employers on the Working Mother list are chosen based on an application of 575 questions about work force, compensation, child-care and flexibility programs as well as leave policies. They also are quizzed about the availability of the program and how many people use them.

Two Maryland-based companies made this year's list: Discovery Communications Inc. in Silver Spring and Marriott International Inc. in Bethesda.

At Discovery, for instance, 74 percent of staffers participated in flextime in 2006 and new moms are eligible for nine fully paid weeks off, according to information the company provided to Working Mother. And Marriott allows salaried and hourly workers to set their own schedules.

Those perks sound great, but how much weight should working mothers and others place on the Working Mother list and others like it?

Kate Fleming, a spokeswoman for Working Mother, says the list, which has been compiled for the past 22 years, is a benchmark.

The first year it was published, only three companies were on the list, Fleming says. Since then, the list has encouraged companies to provide family-friendly policies and benefits, she says.

Others are more skeptical.

American Public Media's Marketplace radio news reported last week that eight companies on last year's 100-best list didn't offer any fully paid maternity leave. Two others didn't offer paid leave at all. (The companies were not named in the report.)

Fleming, of Working Mother, did not dispute Marketplace's findings but notes it's unrealistic to expect every company to offer every perk.

Eileen Levitt, president of The HR Team in Columbia, says the Working Mother list and similar ones are good to know but they're limiting.

"The best place [to work] is based on the criteria whoever was judging it had," Levitt says. "I see too many people overly focused on benefits. But how you feel about the job where you work is more important. Plenty of people work for companies that they like but don't like the job."

Levitt says workers should consider what's important to them.

"You may not care for on-site child care but care about whether you'll be judged as a mother or an employee on equal footing as everyone else," she adds.

Send your stories, tips and questions to working@baltsun.com. Please include your first name and your city. On the Job is published Monday at www.baltimoresun.com.

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