Women Ascendant: DW’s 100 BEST companies for Leadership Development for Women of all Races, Cultures & Backgrounds

Women Ascendant

Even in 2012, you can be talented, smart, and hungry to climb the corporate ladder—and get nowhere. Perhaps your current company talks the talk—we value our women employees!—but on the ground does little to help them advance in their careers. Or maybe your company doesn’t even pay lip service to the importance of women in leadership positions.

If that is your impression, research supports it. According to a 2010 study by Mercer of more than 500 companies, women are held back from advancement for myriad reasons, including lack of an executive sponsor or mentor, failure of their company to offer adequate breadth of experience, and the absence of work-life balance policies. The same survey found that while the companies noted they had diversity goals, 70 percent of them had no real strategy for developing and promoting women into key roles.

But there’s good news. Plenty of companies out there welcome and promote women. Diversity Woman scoured and researched Corporate America and compiled a list of companies that care about their female employees and have a culture and policies that support and develop women leaders of all races and backgrounds.

As we made our assessments, some of the factors we considered were the presence of family-friendly programs such as telecommuting and flextime, the number of female executives and board members, the percentage of women getting raises and promotions, and women’s access to built-in succession plans. These, to us, are signs that point to a company’s genuine commitment to women’s progress.

Whether you’re starting your career or you’re a seasoned professional, use this list to map out the path to your next gig.

 

Debbie Ballard

Vice President, Global Shared Services

McDonald’s    Oak Brook, IL

When Debbie Ballard decided to leave McDonald’s in 2004, she made the move because she thought she wasn’t reaching her professional goals. During her time away from the Golden Arches, she realized she had it all wrong. “I had been very conservative and not willing to build the relationships that I needed or take the risks necessary for growth in my career,” says Ballard.

She decided to change her professional approach and mindset, which made a big difference when she returned to McDonald’s in 2005. McDonald’s seemed like a whole new company. Ballard says that six years ago she didn’t even have a passport. “I couldn’t have ever imagined the global nature of the role that I am in today,” she says. “Now 50 percent of my job requires global travel, and 40 percent of my organization is based outside the U.S.”

Ballard gets all the support she needs to succeed from the company’s executive development programs. One program, called Leadership at McDonald’s, helped her expand her business experience and savvy, and solidify key management skills such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and building an executive presence.

Another program, the Executive Program in Corporate Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, taught her how to come up with strategies and execute them while thinking about the global business environment.

For supplemental support and professional growth, Ballard counts on her personal board of mentors for guidance.

“I believe in a panel approach to mentoring, meaning that you will need a number of people to provide varying perspectives related to your career because there is not only one path to success in business,” she says. In Ballard’s case, mentors include a CFO, a CIO, a controller, a VP of strategy and alignment, and the president of McDonald’s USA. As Ballard says, “It truly takes a village.”

Stephanie Gore

Manager, Mid-Atlantic Advisory Services  Director,
Federal Advisory Practice

KPMG    New York, NY

It is hard to imagine a task more daunting than assisting the Department of Defense in getting ready to pass an audit. That is exactly the kind of challenge Stephanie Gore loves. At KPMG, this rising star also helps CFO clients with audit readiness and works on business intelligence, data mapping, and communications strategy projects.

Gore credits her ability to succeed, in part, on the way in which the Big Four auditing firm supports her and other women in their professional growth and with issues outside work. As a mother of three, Gore has found that an internal group, the Abilities in Motion Network, helps her with support and questions that routinely come up in raising an autistic child.

Professionally, Gore counts on a team of cheerleaders and advisors—male and female sponsors—for guidance. “It’s great that I get real-time feedback in the same week or even on the same day,” she says. Gore feels lucky to have a female manager who has worked at KPMG her entire career. “My manager is a strong female partner, and I get more on-the-job leadership training from her than anyone,” says Gore.

Before her promotion earlier this year, Gore says her participation in a high-reputation leadership training program for women that lasted several months prepared her for the promotion and made her a more visible and stronger candidate. “The program helped me figure out where I was as a leader and where I needed to grow,” says Gore. She took those lessons seriously and now puts them to use.

Just how does Gore lead her team? “I try to manage the way I’d like to be managed and  empower those who support me,” says Gore. During meetings with her team, employees can bring up everything from issues related to a project to those about work-life balance. “I try to be approachable and care about them as people, because no one likes to be treated like a robot,” says Gore.

Ida Liu

Managing Director and Head of North American Asian Clients Group

Citi    New York, NY

Ida Liu had been on a strong path in the investment banking world when she took a slight detour. She had spent six years at Merrill Lynch and had been an advisor in some key mergers and deals when she decided to consolidate her interests in business and fashion and work for designer Vivienne Tam as the head of global sales, marketing, public relations, and business development. It was a risky move that paid off when Liu landed at Citi, where she is the head of the North American Asian Clients Group.

The savvy manager has received internal recognition—Citi Private Bank’s Chairman Council Award—multiple years for being one of the top performers. In 2011, Liu received the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award.

Liu can’t say enough about the great managers she is surrounded by on a daily basis, who serve as role models. “At Citi, we have excellent leadership that can help guide me and others,” says Liu.

Outside her encounters with great leaders, Liu has solidified her leadership chops by participating in three different programs offered at Citi. One, Women Leading Citi, is an 18-month program that paired her with a sponsor whose job was to mentor her, expand her network, and advocate for new opportunities. Each participant got an in-depth assessment, up to six months of executive coaching, and access to supplemental leadership workshops. Citi reports that of the 59 women in the 2009 program—the first—29 percent have new job responsibilities, 22 percent have new roles, and 19 percent have a new level of seniority.

Liu says this and other Citi programs have broadened her business connections. “Each one of the programs gives me the ability to network with highly talented individuals from different business units around the world,” she says. “I can call them and tap into our extensive, global network.”

Monica Mandelli

Managing Director, Investment Banking

Goldman Sachs    New York, NY

Ever since Monica Mandelli landed at Goldman Sachs after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1998, she has climbed the corporate ladder to become one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. Today she’s responsible for developing Goldman’s relationships with wealthy families.

Over the years, Mandelli has taken leadership development courses at Goldman, and each time she learns something valuable. “I’ve learned skills from how to give a public speech with poise to how to better motivate people, and everything in between,” she says.

The most recent program Mandelli completed, the Managing Director Leadership Acceleration Initiative, is available to senior managing directors, who are given coaching and group projects that expand their knowledge of many different areas of the firm. “All these programs are extremely helpful, as each one leaves you with at least two or three practical follow-ups or tips to be a better professional,” says Mandelli.

Over the years, Mandelli has served as co-head of the Firmwide Women’s Network and was co-head of the Women’s Network for the Investment Banking Division. She has also taken other leadership roles in the firm’s recruiting, training, and mentoring programs.

“Like many working moms, I feel that one of the toughest decisions is to give up some time that I would be spending with my children in order to fulfill my responsibilities in the office,” Mandelli says. “That is why it is very important to me to know at all times that my career is on the right trajectory, because the opportunity cost is so high.” She takes that mandate very seriously and each year assesses whether she is challenged enough.

Having a great manager is part of that equation. “It is extremely important to have someone who knows where you want to go and is willing to help you get there,” says Mandelli.

The savvy manager has received internal recognition—Citi Private Bank’s Chairman Council Award—multiple years for being one of the top performers. In 2011, Liu received the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award.

Liu can’t say enough about the great managers she is surrounded by on a daily basis, who serve as role models. “At Citi, we have excellent leadership that can help guide me and others,” says Liu.

Outside her encounters with great leaders, Liu has solidified her leadership chops by participating in three different programs offered at Citi. One, Women Leading Citi, is an 18-month program that paired her with a sponsor whose job was to mentor her, expand her network, and advocate for new opportunities. Each participant got an in-depth assessment, up to six months of executive coaching, and access to supplemental leadership workshops. Citi reports that of the 59 women in the 2009 program—the first—29 percent have new job responsibilities, 22 percent have new roles, and 19 percent have a new level of seniority.

Liu says this and other Citi programs have broadened her business connections. “Each one of the programs gives me the ability to network with highly talented individuals from different business units around the world,” she says. “I can call them and tap into our extensive, global network.”

Maria Medrano

Data Strategy and Analytics Manager

Cisco Systems    San Jose, CA

When a former employer asked Maria Medrano to abandon her graduate degree studies and focus all her attention on her work as a manager at a construction firm, she knew she had a tough decision to make. Her parents had told her that the path to success was through schooling—Medrano was the first in her family to graduate from college—and in having a good work ethic. She ultimately decided to leave the company because it didn’t back her pursuit of a master’s degree.

Boy, was Medrano right. Shortly after receiving her master’s in organizational development from Sonoma State University, she landed a job at Cisco as a financial liaison. In her five years at Cisco, Medrano has taken advantage of what the network equipment giant has to offer, including a leadership program that taught her lessons about managing people. She even went back to school, this time for an MBA, with the blessing of both her manager and Cisco. “Even though I already had a graduate degree, Cisco supported me in going to school for a second graduate degree,” she says. “They clearly support higher education.”

In addition to excelling in training programs and doing excellent work, Medrano garnered a promotion when she proved she could take initiative and successfully launch an employee resource group called Connected Women of Sacramento. The launch allowed Medrano to organize, lead, and network in an unconventional way. The experience emphasized an important lesson about Cisco’s culture. “You are truly given the opportunity to succeed,” she says. “You don’t have to have a grandiose title to be given a chance.”

In 2011, Cisco dedicated $113 million to employee training and development, with 82 percent of employees taking at least one course. Another popular, family-friendly option is telecommuting: 95 percent of staffers work from home on a regular basis. “The company expects you to have a work-life balance, and that kind of culture goes a long way,” says Medrano.

Mariela Ure

SVP Hispanic Segment Strategy

Wells Fargo    San Francisco, CA

Mariela Ure is comforted that Wells Fargo took nearly a year to fill the position she currently holds. To Ure, the long wait for a response meant that Wells Fargo thought it was important to carefully vet the candidates vying for the opportunity to run its Hispanic segment.

Ure has been busy bridging the banking giant’s goals and the needs of its Hispanic clientele. Her job is to make sure that she and the team deliver solid business and marketing plans that attract Hispanics and retain current customers.

Ure and other women at Wells Fargo have a multitude of leadership development training options available to them, such as career development, rotation programs, and mentoring and training. One, called Diverse Leaders, is specifically for Hispanics.

As a leader, Ure says she takes a hands-on, individual approach. “I am constantly thinking of work that doesn’t come easy to my team,” she says. “When people are challenged, they are more engaged and pay more attention.”

As an employee, Ure feels empowered when she sees many high-ranking women in the halls of Wells Fargo. The bank’s board, for example, reveals a diverse makeup: 13 percent Asian, 6 percent African-American, 6 percent Latino, and 31 percent women. “The fact that women get recognized and that there are successful women at Wells Fargo helps me see that I have the same opportunity,” says Ure.

For its efforts to create a diverse workplace that attracts top talent, Wells Fargo has been voted among the top 50 Companies for Diversity by Diversity Inc. and was named the 12th Best Company for Latinas by Latina Style magazine in 2011. This year it ranked 45th on the list of Fortune magazine’s Most Admired Companies. DW

Jenny Mero is a frequent contributor to DW.

 

 Company            Headquarters    Type of Company

Abbott Abbott Park, IL Pharmaceutical
Accenture Dublin, Ireland IT consulting
Aetna Hartford, CT Health insurance
Allstate
Insurance
Northbrook, IL Insurance: property and casualty
American
Electric Power
Columbus, OH Energy
American Express New York, NY Commercial banks
AOL New York, NY Internet media
Arnold & Porter Washington, DC Law firm
AstraZeneca Wilmington, DE,  and London, England Pharmaceutical
AT&T Dallas, TX Telecommunications
Automatic Data
Processing
Roseland, NJ Business process outsourcing
AXA Equitable New York, NY Financial services
Bain & Co. Boston, MA Management
consulting
Bank of America Charlotte, NC Banking
Bayer Pittsburgh, PA Pharmaceutical
BDO Chicago, IL Professional services
Boehringer
Ingelheim Pharmaceutical USA
Ridgefield, CT Pharmaceutical
Booz Allen
Hamilton
McLean, VA Management
consulting
Boston Consulting Group Boston, MA Management consulting
Bristol-Myers Squibb New York, NY Pharmaceutical
CA
Technologies
Islandia, NY Enterprise software
Campbell Soup* Camden, NJ Food processing
Capital One McLean, VA Financial services
Cardinal Health Dublin, OH Pharmaceutical
Carlson Minnetonka, MN Hospitality
Chubb Warren, NJ Insurance: property and casualty
Cisco San Jose, CA Network and other communications equipment
Citi New York, NY Commercial banks
Colgate-
Palmolive
New York, NY Personal care
Covington &
Burling
Washington, DC Law firm
Credit Suisse Zurich, Switzerland, and New York, NY Financial services
Dell Round Rock, TX Computer hardware
Deloitte New York, NY, and London, England Professional services
Deutsche Bank New York, NY and Frankfurt, Germany Banking, financial services
Diageo North America Norwalk, CT Beverages
Discovery Communications Silver Spring, MD Mass media
Dow Corning Midland, MI Manufacturing
DuPont Wilmington, DE Chemicals
Eli Lilly and
Company
Indianapolis, IN Pharmaceutical
Ernst & Young London, UK, and New York, NY Professional services
FedEx Memphis, TN Courier
FINRA Washington, DC Financial regulator
First Horizon National Memphis, TN Financial services
Fleishman-Hillard St. Louis, MO Public relations
Freddie Mac McLean, VA Financial services
Genentech South San Francisco, CA Biotechnology
General
Electric
Fairfield, CT Conglomerate
General Mills Minneapolis, MN Food Processing
Goldman Sachs New York, NY Commercial banks
Google Menlo Park, CA Internet
Hewlett
Packard*
Palo Alto, CA Computer hardware
HSBC North America New York, NY Financial services
IBM* Armonk, NY IT consulting
Intel Santa Clara, CA Semiconductors
Johnson &
Johnson
New Brunswick, NJ Pharmaceutical
JP Morgan Chase New York, NY Banking, financial services
Katten Muchin Rosenman Chicago, IL Law firm
Kelloggís Battle Creek, MI Food processing
KPMG New York, NY Audit and tax advisory
Kraft Foods Northfield, IL Food processing
LEGO
Systems
Enfield, CT, and
Billund, Denmark
Toys
Lockheed Martin Bethesda, MD Aerospace, defense
Macyís Cincinnati, OH Retailing
Marriott
International
Bethesda, MD Hospitality
Mass Mutual Financial Group Springfield, MA Financial services
Mastercard Purchase, NY Financial services
McDonaldís Oak Brook, IL Food services
McKinsey New York, NY Management
consulting
Merck Whitehouse
Station, NJ
Pharmaceutical
MetLife New York, NY Financial services
Microsoft Redmond, WA Computer software
Morgan
Stanley
New York, NY Financial services
New York Life Insurance Company New York, NY Insurance: life and annuity
Newell
Rubbermaid
Sandy Springs, GA Consumer goods
Northern Trust Chicago, IL Financial services
Office Depot Boca Raton, FL Specialty retail
Pearson Upper Saddle River, NJ Media, education
PepsiCo* Purchase, NY Food, beverages
Pfizer New York, NY Pharmaceutical
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP New York, NY Law firm
Procter & Gamble Cincinnati, OH Consumer goods
Prudential
Financial
Newark, NJ Financial services
PWC New York, NY Professional services
Scripps Health San Diego, CA Healthcare, non-profit
Sodexo USA Gaithersburg, Maryland Diversified
outsourcing services
State Farm Bloomington, IL Financial services
Texas
Instruments
Dallas, TX Semiconductors
The
McGraw-Hill
Companies
New York, NY Publishing
The New York Times New York, NY Newspapers
The PNC Financial Services Group Pittsburgh, PA Financial services
The Principal Financial Group Des Moines, IA Finance and insurance
TIAA Cref New York, NY Financial services
Valassis
Communications
Livonia, MI Media and marketing services
Verizon New York, NY Telecommunications
Viacom Media Networks New York, NY Entertainment
Walmart Bentonville, AR General
merchandiser
WellPoint Indianapolis, IN Managed health care
Wells Fargo San Francisco, CA Banking
Wyndham
Worldwide
Parsippany, NJ Hospitality
Xerox * Norwalk, CT Computer peripherals

  Filed under: Leadership