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CNN Today

'Working Mother' Editor Discusses Mom-Friendly Companies

Aired September 5, 2000 - 2:32 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: "Working Mother" magazine is out with it's 15th annual list of mom-friendly companies. According to the magazine, these employers best help career women balance diapers and dollars.

In alphabetical order: Allstate Insurance Company, Bank of America, Eli Lilly, Fannie Mae and IBM. The next five: Lincoln Financial, Life Technologies, Merrill Lynch, Novant Health and Prudential Financial Services.

Why did "Working Mother" magazine pick these particular companies? What's so special about them? Let's ask the editor in chief.

Lisa Benenson joins us from our bureau in New York.

Why are these company so great for working moms?

LISA BENENSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "WORKING MOTHER": You know, "Working Mother" has been doing this survey for 15 years. We put these companies through a very rigorous process. They have to answer a questionnaire that runs to more than 100 pages, we talk about their policies in terms of maternity leave, paternity leave, health care, advancement of women, child care. And we look at how deep those programs go, how many people actually get to take advantage of them. These are the companies that came out on top.

WATERS: And yet, in the past, when you began this list, as I understand it, some of these companies providing these benefits were only providing them to the upper echelons within the company. That would be a problem, wouldn't it?

BENENSON: It is a problem and it remains a problem in some companies, not with all of them. Among the companies on the "Working Mother" list, 68 percent provide child care to their employees, 99 percent provide flex time care. That compares to companies overall in this country, only 10 percent provide child care and less than 50 percent provide some kind of flex time. So these companies are leading the way, but there's still certainly a battle to be fought here.

WATERS: Give us an example -- child care, of course, but give us an example of some of these benefits. BENENSON: Well, I think there are some extraordinary benefits that aren't necessarily in that realm. Fannie Mae, for instance, will help you buy a house. They'll loan you up to $15,000 if you're an employee, and then they'll pay it back for you over the course of five years. So you stick around, you've gotten a $15,000 loan and they've paid it off for you.

Other companies, for instance, Eli Lillie -- coming off of a summer of trying to keep track of my own kids and make sure that their child care was covered -- Eli Lilly actually provides a summer care program that only costs its employees $95 a week per child. I think those are pretty extraordinary benefits for any working family.

WATERS: Why is -- why are these benefits so important to these companies in today's environment?

BENENSON: Well, you know, it's an incredibly competitive environment, and these companies have to offer these things if they want to attract and retain employees. There's really no choice for them anymore.

WATERS: You mentioned there's still a long way to go. What did you mean by that?

BENENSON: Well, I think, as I said, when we look outside the "Working Mother" list, there are an awful lot of companies who aren't providing anything like this. There are 26 million working mothers in America; two-thirds of them are blue-collar or hourly wage employees. Those women very rarely have access to these kinds of benefits, and I think we need to change that in this country.

WATERS: Have you seen any companies that didn't make your list try harder to get on the list?

BENENSON: Well, I know that last year we had a number of companies who were on our "Companies to Watch" list who made it this year. I think that every year the companies who are applying for this list raise the bar themselves. We try to raise, they raise it even higher. It's a very competitive list. They keep trying to come up with new programs, new advances, and it's making the workplace better for their employees.

WATERS: Lisa Benenson, editor in chief of "Working Mother" magazine, thanks so much.

BENENSON: Thank you.

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