Yale again designated among the 100 best companies for working mothers

Yale University has again been selected by Working Mother magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies” in the nation.

Working Mother’s “Best Companies” initiative, now in its 28th year, recognizes organizations for their leadership in creating and promoting family-friendly benefits and programs that support employees as they strive to balance work and family responsibilities.

"We are excited that Yale has received, for the fourth year in a row, national recognition as one of Working Mother magazine’s ‘100 Best Companies’,” said President Peter Salovey. “We’re proud that 50% of Yale’s senior managers are women, many of them working mothers. The family-friendly workplace that we continue to nurture, year in and year out, enables us to attract and retain top talent at all levels of the university. At the same time, we must strive to continue to make improvements. There is always more Yale can do to create an environment in which employees thrive, making our mission of research and education possible.”

Yale received its highest scores for the representation of women in its workforce; access to benefits both comprehensive and unique, such as the Scholarship for Sons and Daughters, Homebuyers Program, and Tuition Reimbursement; child-care resources; paid time-off policies; and company culture/work-life programs, particularly the university’s health and wellness programs, manager training, and consistent support of workplace surveys. All of these, the magazine noted, recognize that women are faced with competing demands and need support and understanding to manage their personal and professional responsibilities.

“We are pleased to again be selected by Working Mother magazine as one of the best organizations for working mothers," said Mike Peel, vice-president of human resources and administration. "We realize how difficult it is to balance a challenging job and one's family responsibilities, and we are working hard to make our organization more flexible and supportive." 

Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, said, "We are proud to honor Yale as a Working Mother 100 Best Company for 2013. In addition to its family-friendly policies, Yale University grants scholarships to female employees through its Women's Organization, and offers parents generous educational assistance and enlightening seminars regarding financial aid.  Employees who want to concentrate on their own intellectual development may access yearly reimbursements as well."

The magazine annually recognizes organizations that make it possible for women to advance in their workplaces. In the highest echelon, 5 of Yale’s 10 officers are women, as are the deans of Yale College and the Schools of Engineering & Applied Science and Nursing. Last year, 299 women were promoted into or within management; women accounted for 67% of managers in the Managing at Yale program, which develops leadership workshops such as “Inside/Outside Coaching” and “Leading with Influence.”

The Women Faculty Forum (WFF) continued strengthening programs in 2012 to advance the visibility of women in intellectual leadership on campus and in the world. These programs included: monthly networking lunches; “Act Like a Leader” leadership workshops; a mentoring program pairing 40 junior and senior faculty women for professional guidance; and, the Op-Ed Project, a mentoring program to encourage women faculty to produce thought-leadership content. Through the latter initiative, 23 opinion pieceswere published in international media (e.g. New York Times, NPR, Slate, PBS, BBC, CNN) in 2012. This included a major groundbreaking study on the unconscious gender bias women face working in the sciences, written by WFF steering committee member professor Jo Handelsman, who was named one of the 10 people who mattered in science in 2012 by the international journal Nature.

Yale’s benefits, its healthcare coverage, and the programs it offers (see below) were another factor that contributed to the university’s winning score, according to Working Mother. Yale Health is the preferred healthcare provider for 70% of all employees, and offers full family coverage. For 60% of the employees on the health plan, there is no cost, with a minimal sliding scale contribution for others. Yale Health Center, integrated with the academic and research communities of the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing, serves over 36,000 employees, families, and students, and is recognized as a model of 21st-century primary care.

Yale Health offers wellness programs, interactive tools and classes including free family flu clinics, free mammograms, and diabetes screening. Extended hours, early-morning pediatric consultations, and confidential online communication with care providers make it easier for parents to make arrangements at work and school when a child is sick. Yale Health also continues the American Cancer Society’s FreshStart smoking cessation program for employees, and 73% of participants have successfully remained smoke-free permanently.

Helping working mothers to solve child-care issues is another important criterion for making it onto Working Mother’s top 100 list. Parents can use the free online Yale Babysitting Service, linking them to 1,400 registered Yale student babysitters — many available for last-minute requests. Yale subsidizes 40 hours of back-up childcare at home or if traveling. The Anne Coffin Hanson Fund, named after the first woman professor granted full tenure at Yale, grants $1,000 to eligible faculty members to cover childcare expenses while traveling. For qualifying adopting parents, Yale offers up to $5,000 for expense reimbursement.

Susan Abramson, manager of the WorkLife program and childcare programs, has been a resource for all parents for over 15 years. A constant presence at New Employee Orientation, she also provides personal consultations, advising more than 100 individuals on childcare options in 2012. “Last year was one of my busiest years,” Abramson says. “Not only did I meet with many individuals, but I also continue to hold bi-monthly childcare information sessions — 81 parents attended in 2012 — and departmental trainings on flexible options.”

The magazine also gave Yale points for putting a greater focus on employee engagement in health and stress management. Through a nascent initiative called Being Well at Yale, the Get Active Challenge — a new six-week program designed to motivate staff to increase physical activity at work and home — was introduced. Powered through the online wellness site HealthTrails, the program engaged 1,200 employees, who tracked and recorded their minutes of daily physical activity as individuals and workplace teams; 120 registered teams competed. Winning teams recording the highest activity received prizes and a healthy recognition luncheon.

In addition to hosting 42 classes in 2012, the WorkLife program co-sponsored FitWeek New Haven — a weeklong community event to encourage active lifestyles during National Health and Family Month. The week included over 500 fitness classes at 50 various New Haven locations. Workshops included topics such as “Healthy Happy Hours” and eating healthy on a budget; nearly 300 employees participated.

The unique benefits that helped Yale make the grade:

  • Homebuyers Program: The Homebuyers Program provided 331 employees (over 50% were women) with up to $30,000 in grants per home in designated New Haven neighborhoods in 2012. This includes $5,000 the first year and $2,000 to 2,500 annually for up to 10 years, as well as a mortgage program at four area banks.
  • The Scholarship for Sons and Daughters: This benefit provided 1,014 eligible employees (full-time and part-time) up to $15,200 annually ($7,600 per semester per child) for children at any accredited undergraduate college. In 2012, Yale spent over $11.5M for 1,175 scholarships.
  • Counseling and Support Services: Yale provides free legal services through the Counseling and Support Services program. The university also offers extensive, confidential counseling sessions with mental health specialists, work-life and stress-management support, and adoption counseling, and it maintains a library of eldercare and childcare resources for employees and their families.
  • Tuition Reimbursement and Women’s Scholarships: Yale granted tuition reimbursement for 430 employees (77% were women) in 2012. Depending on eligibility and service, employees were offered up to $5,250/year. Also, the Yale Women’s Organization awarded five scholarships to women employees who sought to further their education in 2012­–bringing their total to 289 scholarships to date.
  • Retirement plans and more: Employees have a choice of three retirement plans (pension, defined contribution with 5% maximum match and tax-deferred 403B savings), flexible spending accounts, and free MEDEX Travel (emergency medical and assistance when traveling).
  • On-site learning: Yale provides learning opportunities for continued professional education. Courses in management, technology, and career development are offered at the on-site Learning Center. Almost 3,000 employees attended classes in 2012; two-thirds were women. All employees and spouses may audit most Yale College and Graduate School courses for free, with the permission of their supervisor and the course instructor. Exempt employees and spouses of those accepted into qualifying Yale Graduate School (degree or non-degree) and Yale College programs are eligible for reduced tuition.

The full profiles of the 100 Best Companies are available online at www.workingmother.com and in the October issue of Working Mother magazine.