Posted Aug. 4, 2008 -- To create this year's list, Essence asked more than 60 business insiders -- headhunters, human resources representatives, research firms and nonprofit organizations -- to nominate companies with solid reputations for hiring, retaining, supporting and promoting Black women.(Unlike other lists that rely on a question-and-answer survey in which companies can respond with what they want you to know, we created our methodology based on discussions with those in the know.) We then conducted additional research to find exceptional programs and policies within these organizations that cater specifically to our needs. We also contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to find out if those being considered are indeed practicing what they preach. Finally, we scoured the staff of some great companies to find Black women who are succeeding at all levels.
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Here are the findings (* Companies listed alphabetically):
1. Aetna, Inc., Hartford
What makes it great: There are strong employee networks at this health-care benefits company, with plenty of opportunities for Black women to meet others. It also has programs that give midlevel employees of color leadership development training for future top spots.
2. Citigroup, New York
What makes it great: Citigroup has solid employee-led affinity networks and high-placed Black women. Ann Dibble Jordan sits on the board of directors, and Leah Johnson, senior vice-president, global corporate affairs, and the highest-ranking Black woman in the company, sits on its exclusive operating and management committees. Citigroup also has 15 other Black women among its senior management ranks.
3. The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta
What makes it great: One way the soft drink giant levels the playing field for African-Americans is by creating partnerships with groups like the National Black MBA Association in its search for capable and experienced employees.
4. Colgate-Palmolive Co., New York
What makes it great: It's inspiring to see women such as Marsha E. Butler, D.D.S., senior executive and vice-president of global oral health and professional relations, in the corporate office. She and Colgate-Palmolive work with the National Dental Association to improve oral health in our communities.
5. Comcast, Philadelphia
What makes it great: Black women are represented throughout the company, starting with Charrisse Lillie, vice-president, human resources, and senior vice-president, Comcast Cable. And people of color make up 40 percent of the staff at this cable giant, thanks to recruiting efforts with organizations like the National Association of Minorities in Communications and its five-year commitment to provide summer and then permanent jobs to inner-city youth through the Emma L. Bowen Foundation.
6. Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati
What makes it great: Black women represent 16.3 percent of Federated's workforce at all levels. The retail giant also supports leadership development and has worked with organizations such as the National Council of Negro Women and Spelman College.
7. Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco
What makes it great: This biotechnology company has incorporated cultural values into its mission statement and created a Diversity in Action (DNA) 3-Point plan to recruit diverse talent and sponsor the Genentech Scholars program. This program offers scholarships and internships to diverse California-based students who are interested in the biotech industry. This year Genentech Scholars plans to award ten scholarships for $5,000 each at the high school level, ten for $7,500 each at the community college and undergraduate levels and two $10,000 scholarships at the graduate level in the field of science.
8. General Electric Co., Fairfield, CT
What makes it great: Flex appeal. This company has an array of flexible work options, including job sharing and compressed workweeks, that are actually being used by about half of the employees.
9. Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA
What makes it great: Upward mobility. This technology giant has four Black women as vice-presidents. "The presence of women of color is significantly different here from most companies I have worked with," says one of our expert nominators.
10. IBM, Armonk, NY
What makes it great: Black executives have increased 121 percent at this computer giant since 1995. Four members of its worldwide management council and 14 members of the senior leadership team are Black.
11. Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ
What makes it great: "I can tell you without hesitation that the company is doing some of the most significant work out there with regards to advancing the interests of African-American women," says Joe Watson. A management consultant and author of Without Excuses: Unleash the Power of Diversity to Build Your Business (St. Martin's Press), Watson nominated the consumer products giant.
12. Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL
What makes it great: In 2005 Kraft gave grants to 18 organizations specifically serving our communities and forged a new partnership with the Black Women's Health Imperative to address the health and nutrition needs of Black women.The company has both formal and informal mentoring programs, so there's a lot to inspire Black women.
13. Marriott International, Washington, DC
What makes it great: The next time you decide to stay at a Marriott, Ritz-Carlton or Renaissance hotel, sleep well knowing that 60 percent of Marriott International's associates are minorities and 54 percent are women, while 27 percent of management are minorities and 48 percent are women. Eighteen years ago, this was one of the first lodging companies to establish a diversity program, and since then it has been presented with the Champion Award by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, a group that was organized to increase the number of properties owned and operated by African-Americans.
14. McDonald's Corp., Oak Brook, IL
What makes it great: With programs like the Black Career Development seminars at Hamburger University, it touts more training for women and minorities than most other firms.
15. Merrill Lynch, New York
What makes it great: "Merrill has a growing and commendable record of developing African-American women," says Joann Stevens of The Executive Leadership Council, which nominated the brokerage giant. Merrill also allows for individuality. "We see women wearing hairstyles from buzz cuts to twists and braids, and business attire with ethnic accents," Stevens says.
16. Morgan Stanley, New York
What makes it great: Morgan Stanley has established itself as a global heavyweight in the financial services business, using its reputation to sponsor and participate in more than 50 events to recruit people of color including the Columbia Black Business Student Association Conference and the Harvard African-American Student Union Career Conference.
17. MTV Networks, New York
What makes it great: MTV has created an internal advisory team to advance diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion. The company's first executive vice-president of global inclusion strategy, Marva Smalls, and the MTVN Diversity Council help the advisory team develop strategies to advance diversity. With African-Americans like Christina Norman, president of MTV Networks, and Smalls on board, things are changing for Black women here.
18. Nike, Beaverton, OR
What makes it great: The sporting goods manufacturer initiated the Global Diversity Executive Council and the Global Women's Leadership Council. To create a workable plan execs went straight to the employees. A survey revealed that Nike staffers joined the company because of opportunities for personal development and advancement. "Having African-Americans in meaningful positions can be a good first step toward making things happen," says Boyce Watkins, assistant finance professor at Syracuse University.
19. PepsiCo, Purchase, NY
What makes it great: In the aftermath of a huge race discrimination lawsuit, Pepsi now receives praise as one of the top places for women and minorities to work. To do so, Pepsi got a serious plan: hiring executives solely dedicated to managing diversity in its operating divisions; setting recruitment and retention goals to be met each year; and establishing an external board to advise senior management on ways to make Pepsi more inclusive of employees of color.
20. Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati
What makes it great: Black females are in key positions and have a voice. "A number of high-ranking Black female managers were instrumental in making sure budgets were increased for African-American marketing," says Pepper Miller, president of the Hunter-Miller Group, a Black-owned strategic market research, planning and consulting firm specializing in urban consumers, who nominated P & G.
21. Prudential Financial, Newark, NJ
What makes it great: "Prudential has a strong track record of promoting African American women and placing then in key leadership positions and working with Black-female–owned companies," says Linda Spradley Dunn, president and chief executive officer of Idamar Marketing and Communications, who nominated Prudential for this list.
22. Starbucks Coffee Co., Seattle
What makes it great: In a word, growth. Last year Starbucks launched a pilot program connecting Black female directors with members of the executive leadership team for a yearlong mentorship. Black women also are in key leadership positions, with an executive vice-president and a senior vice-president who both report directly to the CEO. Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management, LLC, one of the largest African American-owned money management firms, serves on its board of directors.
23. Time Warner, New York
What makes it great: This media giant (and Essence's parent company) has made great strides in supplier diversity and hiring people of color. Across the company, hiring at the director and manager levels increased to 28 percent in 2005 from 20 percent in 2003. Meanwhile, high-profile divisions like HBO have several Black women in executive positions: Olivia Smashum, executive vice- president for affiliate marketing; Dolores Morris, vice-president of HBO family development, production and acquisitions; and Sam Martin, vice-president of HBO Films.
24. Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, NC
What makes it great: When it comes to recruiting and promoting African-American women at more senior levels, Wachovia certainly has a great reputation, having recently promoted two Black women to Tier 2 leader positions: Donna Harris, head of the legal division, and Gloria Chance, head of E-commerce and all Internet and online banking businesses. "We benefit from the experience and perspective African-American women can bring to our company and to our customers," says CEO Ken Thompson.
25. Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco
What makes it great: Black women are getting paid! At least 4.3 percent of the top 10 percent of women ranked by pay are African-American, and several Black women are among the highest-paid managers in the company. In addition to supporting our women in the field, this financial services firm supports more than 500 organizations serving our community, including the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs.