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NAFE Announces Top 50 Companies for Female Executives



Julia Monti, The Rosen Group



2009 Marks Watershed Moment for Women in Business:

NAFE Announces Top 50 Companies for Female Executives


Principal Financial Group, Liz Claiborne and Aetna Among

Top Companies Dedicated to Women’s Advancement


New York, N.Y. (March 16, 2009) – As the economy forces major shifts in America’s corporations, the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) urges companies to turn to female leadership to find terra firma—and strongly cautions against allowing women’s advancement to lose ground. Smart companies already are striving for gender balance, and today NAFE releases the NAFE Top 50 Companies for Executive Women, spotlighting corporations whose commendable practices and employment records demonstrate that women matter to the bottom line.


In determining its Top Companies, NAFE places specific emphasis on the number of women running the business-of-the-business, jobs with profit-and-loss responsibility. According to a Columbia University/University of Maryland study, “greater female representation in senior management positions leads to… better firm quality and performance;” and a McKinsey study, “Women Matter,” reports that companies with the most women senior executives and board members perform best. 


“NAFE applauds the strides taken by our Top Companies, and urges further action across the board.  It’s essential that companies realize that workplace equality is more than a moral obligation—it’s a fiscal one,” says Betty Spence, NAFE president. “Currently, women hold less than ten percent of the jobs responsible for profit-and-loss at our largest corporations, with an alarming 19 percent decline in recent years. Those companies with women running operations and making major decisions will have a significant competitive advantage.”


Companies with proven track records for women include Aetna, Kraft, the New York Times Company, and AstraZeneca, where women run half or more of the companies’ major divisions. At the next level down, women fill 40+ percent of corporate officer positions with P&L responsibility at four companies: Bristol-Myers Squibb, JP Morgan Chase, Liz Claiborne, and Merck.


NAFE also reports that women are succeeding in industries pegged as boy’s clubs: at manufacturer Dupont, although women are only 26 percent of employees, they are 24 percent of senior managers; at Xerox, women are 31 percent of employees and fill 31 percent of senior management positions; and at IBM, the percentage of global women managers increased 564 percent since 1999.


In particular, the selected companies:

  • Identify talent early. WellPoint moves emerging women leaders through three annual, cross-functional positions to broaden skills and exposure throughout the company.
  • Root out bias. Cisco revamped its interview process to include a woman and person of color on every team and to train on gender/cultural characteristics that derail candidates.
  • Ask the women. Texas Instruments’ “Insights” group brings 14 women together with CEO Rich Templeton so he can gain information from the ground-up on what needs to be done.
  • Mentor. A Xerox caucus group, the Women’s Alliance, created an online mentor-match making pilot and launched it in 2007, now so successful that other groups are signing on.
  • Develop leaders. MetLife’s “Business Acumen” program in partnership with Babson College includes case studies and stretch assignments.
  • Mine all resources. Marriott unearths and trains talent from every cranny of the organization, resulting in general managers who started as clerks and waitresses.
  • Help out with balance. Procter & Gamble adopted a hip anti-stress course called “Corporate Athlete.”
  • Take risks with women. Having the opportunity to run major brands early in their careers, women now run 45 percent of businesses at General Mills.


To make the list of the NAFE Top 50, companies must have at least two women on the board and track gender in P&L jobs, something they have not done before. “Companies that have women contributing their perspective and expertise to the actual running of the business not only are the ones that will survive our economic crisis, they will emerge from it as leaders in the global economy,” said Carol Evans, NAFE CEO.


NAFE will honor the Top Companies at a luncheon at

Cipriani 42nd Street
in New York City on March 18.  That morning, the NAFE Roundtable of senior women executives from the Top Companies will meet to discuss issues facing women executives, including the negative momentum of the economy and their role in the turnaround.


The 2009 NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women are (in alphabetical order):


The Top 10

Aetna – Hartford, Conn.

AstraZeneca – Wilmington, Del.

Avon Products – New York, N.Y.

General Mills – Minneapolis, Minn.

IBM – Austin, Texas

Johnson and Johnson – New Brunswick, N.J.

Liz Claiborne – North Bergen, N.J.

Marriott International – Bethesda, Md.

Principal Financial Group – Des Moines, Iowa

Procter & Gamble – Cincinnati, Ohio



Abbott – Abbott Park, Ill.

Allstate Insurance – Northbrook, Ill.

American Express – Suwanee, Ga.

Bank of AmericaProvidence, R.I.

Bristol-Myers Squibb – Plainsboro, N.J.

Cisco Systems – Honolulu, Hawaii

Colgate-Palmolive – New York, N.Y.

Dow Chemical – Midland, Mich.

DuPont – Wilmington, Del.

Eli Lilly and Company – Indianapolis, Ind.

First Horizon National – Memphis, Tenn.

Ford Motor Company – Dearborn, Mich.

Hewlett-Packard – Palo Alto, Calif.

HSBC - North America – Prospect Heights, Ill.

Intel – Santa Clara, Calif.

JPMorgan Chase – New York, N.Y.

Kellogg – Battle Creek, Mich.

Kraft Foods – Northfield, Ill.

Macy's – New York, N.Y.

McGraw-Hill – New York, N.Y.

Merck & Co. – Whitehouse Station, N.J.

MetLife – New York, N.Y.

New York Life Insurance – New York, N.Y.

New York Times Company – New York, N.Y.

Northern Trust – Chicago, Ill.

Office Depot – Delray Beach, Fla.

Pearson – New York, N.Y.  

Pfizer – New York, N.Y.

Phoenix Companies – Hartford, Conn.

PNC Financial Services Group – Pittsburgh, Pa.

Prudential Financial – Newark, N.J.

Sallie Mae – Reston, Va.

Schering-Plough – Kenilworth, N.J.

State Farm Mutual – Bloomington, Ill.

Texas Instruments – Dallas, Texas

Verizon Communications – New York, N.Y.

Wal-Mart Stores – Bentonville, Ark.

WellPoint – Indianapolis, Ind.

Wyeth – Madison, N.J.

Xerox – Stamford, Conn.


NAFE also honors five Top Nonprofits for Women Executives, all in healthcare, where women fill over 80 percent of employee ranks and more leadership roles than at for-profits.

Baptist Health South Florida – Miami, Fla.

Bon Secours Richmond Health System – Richmond, Va.

Mid-Michigan Health – Midland, Mich.

TriHealth – Cincinnati, Ohio

VCU Health System – Richmond, Va.


Methodology: In addition to corporate programs and policies dedicated to advancing women, NAFE measured results, examining the number of women in each company overall, in senior management and on its board of directors. They drew particular attention to the number of women with profit-and-loss responsibility. To be named to the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women, companies with a minimum of two women on the board completed a comprehensive application that focused on the number of women in senior ranks (compared to men and to the company population), including questions about the programs and policies which support women's advancement.


About NAFE: The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), founded in 1972, serves 20,000 members nationwide in the efforts to grow their careers and their businesses. NAFE magazine publishes the annual Top Companies issue as well as quarterly online magazines. keeps members in touch with each other throughout the year. Last year I-NAFE, international counterpart of NAFE was launched in Sau Paulo, Brazil, and Johannesburg, South Africa. NAFE is a division of Working Mother Media and Bonnier Corporation.  

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