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Updated: N.J. companies in Top 100 for working moms list

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Seven New Jersey companies landed on Working Mother magazine’s 2017 Top 100 list of Best Companies for working moms and four of the seven — Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick; Prudential Financial in Newark; Unilever in Englewood Cliffs; and Zoetis in Parsippany — made the Top 10 list.

“This year’s winning companies know the value of keeping their employee moms engaged and supported,” Meredith Bodgas, editor-in-chief of Working Mother magazine, said. “They use schedule flexibility, paid parental leave and family benefits to ensure that parents can develop meaningful careers while leading satisfying home lives.”

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey in Newark, Merck in Kenilworth and Novo Nordisk in Plainsboro also made this year’s list of 100 Best Companies, while Deloitte (Top 10), Ernst & Young (Top 10), JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Verizon, Colgate-Palmolive and Bristol-Myers Squibb — companies with a large New Jersey presence yet headquartered outside of the state — also were named.

“As our 32nd year of recognizing the best companies begins, we are happy to see that the next generation, coupled with technology, have shown us how employees can be efficient, productive, effective and impactful no matter where they work,” Subha Barry, senior vice president and managing director of magazine, said. “The Working Mother 100 Best Companies’ policies and programs have built loyalty among their employees that cannot be underestimated.”

The magazine’s best companies application not only included more than 400 questions on leave policies, workforce representation, benefits, childcare, advancement programs, flexibility policies and more, but it also gauged the availability and usage of such programs, as well as the accountability of the managers who oversee them.

Here are the highlights:

More than 95 percent of the 100 Best Companies nationwide offer paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, compared to less than 30 percent of U.S. companies, with the average length of paid maternity leave growing from nine to 10 weeks over last year.

More than 70 percent of the 100 Best Companies train managers on how to hire, advance or manage women, with 90 percent of the Top 10 having formal compensation policies to reward managers who help women advance.

Every company on the list offers flextime (compared to 57 percent of U.S. companies); 99 percent offer telecommuting (compared to 62 percent of U.S. companies); 88 percent offer a compressed work schedule (compared to 29 percent of U.S. companies); and 79 percent offer job sharing opportunities (compared to 11 percent of U.S. companies).

Nearly 50 percent of the 100 Best Companies have at least one company-sponsored, on-site childcare center, with 72 percent offering sick childcare and 92 percent offering backup childcare.

Every one of the Top 10 companies offers financial assistance with in vitro fertilization, while 80 percent also contribute for egg freezing and 40 percent help with surrogacy.

New Jersey companies helped to drive up these statistics:

At Merck, which has been on the list for 31 years, 54 percent of new hires at the company are women.

“We’re pleased that this award recognizes Merck’s continued commitment to fostering an environment where all of our employees, including working parents, can effectively integrate work and life, take care of themselves and their families, and reach their professional goals,” Celeste Warren, vice president of human resources and the Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence at Merck, said.

Merck’s support includes extensive health insurance, personal health-coaching, a registered nurse hotline, flexible work arrangements, back-up child care, financial planning, education assistance, employee discount programs and paid time off for volunteer efforts. “This list is far-reaching, but we never stop looking for ways to improve these benefits,” Warren said.

Prudential Financial, where nearly 90 percent of women participate in various mentorship opportunities, has been on the list for the last 28 years.

“The flexibility that we offer [allows our employees] to work where, when, and how they need to – plus the access to training and development to obtain leadership positions at the firm – are the things that helped us to make this list,” Maureen Corcoran, vice president of health and wellness at Prudential Financial, said.

“However, culture is everything. Organizations can have as many programs and services and bullet points checked off on their websites, but if the company culture does not support the use of these programs, and does not champion them – that is, if the managers and leaders do not walk the talk by using the benefits themselves and encouraging their employees to do so – then nothing set in place will be as successful as it can be.”

While more than 77 percent of employees at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey are women, the company also looked past traditional family planning when crafting its benefits and policies, earning the company its eighth year on the list.

“When I adopted my son almost two years ago, Horizon was great, both in helping to subsidize my adoption costs, and providing [leave,]” Dyana Tanasy, director of strategic initiatives at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, said. “Then, when I was ready to come back to work a month later, I was able to step right back into the work that I had previously been engaged in.”

Tanasy, also named one of this year’s Working Mothers of the Year, said the flexibility provided by her coworkers and superiors has made a huge difference. 

“They are just so understanding of the different demands on a working parent,” she said. “And, for me, while becoming a mother has had a huge impact on my life, maintaining my role here also has been really important for my own identity.”

Perhaps that is also why more than 95 percent of women at Unilever — five years on the list — participate in career counseling.

“We have seen that by recognizing that every voice matters and creating a culture that supports working parents, we have hit a goal for gender equality,” Mike Clementi, vice president of human resources for Unilever North America, said. “Today, half of our employees at manager level and above are women, and women oversee 33 percent of our departments.

Men are also included in the agenda, Clementi said, adding that the company recently  increased its parental leave policy for all parents to eight weeks of paid time off, with the option to use three weeks of paid vacation. “Yet, we understand that for all parents, it takes more than that, and the men who are parents here are equally encouraged to benefit from the programs that have been put in place,” he said.

Telecommuting – a benefit used by nearly 80 percent of employees at Zoetis – helped the global animal health company earn its spot on the list for the fourth year.

Kim Balaski, a 2017 Working Mother of the Year and director of major accounts marketing and operations at Zoetis, was the first in her division to maintain a leadership role while transitioning into a home-based office in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Having the flexibility to create a full-time, remote work arrangement enabled her and her husband to relocate from the East Coast to be closer to one of their sons.

“I’m grateful that Zoetis fully supported me with this transition,” Balaski said, adding that she and her husband can now balance work and family and have their boys grow up together.

“This award has special meaning for us because it continues to recognize our commitment to cultivating a workplace where colleagues can balance their work and life responsibilities and build rewarding careers,” Roxanne Lagano, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Zoetis, said

At Novo Nordisk, which has been on the list for three years, employees can seek assistance from the company when in need of backup childcare and subsidized backup eldercare.

“Welcoming employees’ unique perspectives and providing everyone in our organization with the opportunity to reach their full potential are hallmarks of our company culture and we work hard to keep it that way,” Doug Langa, executive vice president, head of North America operations and president of Novo Nordisk, said. “They’re what helps make us a competitive employer and ignites our team’s passion for making a difference for people with serious chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.”

Lastly, Johnson & Johnson, which has been named to the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list each year for 32 years, offers 15 weeks of fully paid leave for new mothers, and eight weeks of fully paid leave for fathers and adoptive parents.

While the surveys were overwhelmingly positive from each 100 Best Company, it should be noted that, while the number of women employees seemed fairly equal, men continued to dominate senior manager and C-suite positions at more than 65 percent. 

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