House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in Congress in history. Hillary Clinton is a strong contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Several ascensions in 2006—Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo, Irene Rosenfeld at Kraft, and Patricia Woertz at Archer Daniels Midland—brought highly visible women to the helm of Fortune 500 companies. In short, 2007 looks like a banner year for high-achieving women.
But in some ways, these shining exceptions only highlight just how far our society still has to go. "If you look at how many women are in top management in Fortune 500 companies, and how many sit on the board, it's still a ridiculously low percentage," says Martha Burk, director of the National Council of Women's Organizations' (NCWO) corporate accountability project.
The NAFE Top 30 Companies for Executive Women and Top 5 Nonprofits for Women are striving to change that. These organizations are the cream of the crop—boasting a high percentage of women in senior leadership, policies linking manager pay directly to the advancement of women, and stellar training programs to fill the pipeline with talented women.
By The Numbers
In scoring this year's Top 30, we focused not on well-meaning attempts to make the workforce more friendly toward women, but on actual results. We asked for facts and figures: How many women are in top management positions? How many receive top pay? What policies ensure that women are fairly represented in senior management—and do those policies have teeth? Our scoring system rewarded companies with relatively high percentages of women at the top, such as Gannett and Liz Claiborne.
It also favored companies that track the representation of women at all levels, like Pfizer, which in 2005 launched a Web-based data tool called the Diversity Dashboard providing senior executives with an up-to-the-minute demographic snapshot of the organization. After viewing the dashboard for the first time, one group of senior managers immediately launched a discussion about gender disparity in promotions and evaluations. "It's very powerful when you see visually how the gap widens from the recruiting level to the senior level," says Shinder Dhillon, Pfizer's global director of diversity. "We have had an increase in the number of women in senior to mid-level management."
Our scoring also rewarded companies for holding managers accountable for advancing women.