- Major employers across industries — from hospitality to pharmaceuticals — earned top spots on the National Association for Female Executives' (NAFE) 2019 Top 70 Companies for Executive Women list. The organization awarded employers that "prepare, promote and push women to executive levels." Eli Lilly and Company, Ernst & Young LLP, FleishmanHillard, IBM, JLL, Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal USA, Marriott International, Procter & Gamble and Unilever USA filled out the top 10.
- Female CEOs at the winning companies increased by 5%, reaching 19% this year and outpacing the S&P 500, according to a press release. Female board of directors increased from 30% in 2018 to 32% this year, and female executives overseeing divisions valued at more than $1 billion rose from 21% to 26% in the past year, the release said.
- "The 2019 NAFE Top Companies continue to tell a progressive story about what organizations are doing to move women up into executive positions," Subha V. Barry, president of Working Mother Media, said in the release. "While the results are encouraging, there is still much work to do. There are still too few women serving as CEOs, managing large asset portfolios, and seated on boards of directors, but the NAFE Top Companies are paving the way for the advancement of women."
"Best places to work" lists like NAFE's can offer onlooking employers an unofficial blueprint for advancing women's careers. NAFE's list is a reminder of the progress companies have made and can make in preparing women for their entry into top corporate slots. But the overall picture may not be as positive; women, especially women of color, are disappearing from the talent pipeline at every level in an organization up to the C-suite, according to a study by Bentley University's Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business. Another study revealed that when an employee is the sole woman in a department, on a team or at a meeting, they're less likely to stay.
NAFE President Betty Spence previously told HR Dive in an interview that men have supporters who clear the way for their upward mobility. Women, on the other hand, she said, often lack people higher up in organizations who want to sponsor them. She added that because women are treated differently from men, they're often denied development opportunities. She advocates sponsoring programs to help high-level women advance.
As companies look for ways to bring more women into their upper ranks, they must also find ways to retain them. A study by The Kapor Center for Social Impact found that mistreatment has forced women, African Americans and more minority groups out of tech companies. Some tech firms claim they want to increase their dismal numbers when it comes to women and minority groups, but aiming to hire candidates from diverse background won't suffice. Employers must also make inclusion part of the equation by treating women and other under-represented groups with respect, appreciating their value, and offering them the same opportunities for advancement as anyone else.
Correction: An earlier version of this story ranked NAFE's top 10 companies incorrectly. HR Dive regrets the error and the headline and story have been updated.