Financial Firms Good for Moms What makes a family-friendly company? Working Mother magazine bases its "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" list on five criteria: child care, leave for new parents, flexible work arrangements, work/life benefits such as elder care and adoption assistance, and opportunities for women. In addition to a good showing by financial companies on this year's list, Working Mother cited some specific examples from insurance giants such as Prudential, which saw a 20 percent decrease in employee absences after instituting job-sharing and flextime programs; and Allstate, which also offers job-sharing and telecommuting options. Prudential has even launched a program called "Daddy Stress," focused on balancing fatherhood and work.

Financial companies in the top 10 (in alphabetical order, followed by the number of years on the list):

* Allstate Insurance, Northbrook, Ill.--10 years

* Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.--12 years

* Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C.--7 years

* Lincoln Financial Group, Fort Wayne, Ind.--14 years

* Merrill Lynch, New York--5 years

* Prudential, Newark, N.J.--11 years

Making the top 100 were 24 other financial firms.

Women's Industry Council Launched When women make up the majority of membership in industry associations, it might seem redundant to create a separate advocacy group exclusively for women. Not true, says Christine Duffy, president of Philadelphia-based McGettigan Partners, one of the largest meeting management companies in the business.

"Women are not in the majority in holding senior level positions," says Duffy, who--taking a cue from other industries with similar groups such as Women in Film--recently established the Women's Meeting Industry Leaders Council. "There's a disproportionate number of men at the senior level," says Duffy, "and no one's disagreeing with me on that." One of her early conversations about the Council was with Meeting Professionals International's president and CEO Edwin L. Griffin Jr., CAE, who pledged his organization's support of Duffy's group.

Duffy launched the Council with some of her high-powered colleagues--including Charlotte St. Martin, executive vice president of Loews Hotels, and Dawn Penfold, president of executive search firm Meetings Candidate Network--during the MPI World Education Congress in Los Angeles this summer. The Council, which will include association and corporate meeting planners along with representatives from hotels, CVBs, airlines, and other meeting suppliers, established goals in five areas: education, recruitment, networking, promotion, and research.

"If you look at our industry," Duffy says, "there is no research on women, nothing to tell us what is the best segment for women, nothing on what are the best companies for women. And we want to recognize those companies that are walking their talk." --Anna Chinappi

Prerost Wins Renaissance Board Meeting * Jacklin Prerost, meeting planner at Zurich US in Schaumburg, Ill., recently won a free board meeting for her company at the Renaissance Orlando Resort at Sea World. Prerost's ballot was drawn at random from all of the Premium Circle ballots we received. A list of meeting hotels and resorts that earned the Premium Circle award by virtue of your votes appeared in the September/October 2000 issue of ICP.