Four Georgia-based companies have been recognized among America’s “Best Employers For Women,” Forbes’ first-ever ranking dedicated to equalizing corporate cultures and empowering women.
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Forbes analysts partnered with researchers at Statista to identify the top American companies for women based on 40,000 survey respondents, including 25,000 women, who were asked to rate their organizations on various criteria, including working conditions, diversity, likelihood of recommending their employer to others, parental leave, discrimination and pay equity.
"These responses were reviewed for potential gender gaps. So if women, for example, rated an organization poorly on diversity, but men rated it highly, Statista would take that into account and adjust the company's score accordingly," Forbes reported.
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Respondents were also asked to nominate organizations in outside industries.
Of the 300 employers with at least 1,000 employees on the final list, Des Moines, Iowa investment management and insurance firm Principal Financial Group earned top honors.
The company employs 9,978 American workers, 59 percent of whom are women.
“You can have a holistic life if you’re part of this organization,” Kerry Gumm, who has been with the company for 20 years, told Forbes. “I’ve not felt the need to compromise in any way.” Respondents lauded Principal Financial Group’s flexible work schedules, prenatal care programs, onsite childcare center and its “commitment to equality.”
Gwinnett County Public Schools ranked the best employer for women in the state — and No. 10 in the country. Forbes also named the district the No. 178 best employer overall.
"We are very pleased that for the second time since May that Forbes and Statista have recognized Gwinnett County Public Schools as a top employer,” Linda Anderson, GCPS associate superintendent for human resources and talent management, said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This latest recognition as a 2018 Best Employer for Women is notable as women make up the majority of our workforce. The 300 employers who make up this list are impressive and we are quite proud that our school district came in at #10. To know that those who responded ranked GCPS so highly when it comes to working conditions, diversity, equity, and the other criteria is wonderful... it is what we focus on day in and day out as we strive to be an employer of choice."
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The Suwanee-based school system employs approximately 22,600 people, 78 percent of whom are women. And it boasts 10 of the 21 high schools ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 best public schools list.
The school system has also recently worked to empower its young women. Earlier this month, GCPS announced a partnership with the Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur Blank Foundation to launch the state's first flag football league for female students in a Georgia district, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Emory University came in at No. 41 on the list, followed by Columbus-based health insurance company Aflac (No. 70) and global travel management provider BCD Travel (No. 73), which is headquartered in Atlanta.
Other Georgia employers on the list of 300 at forbes.com.
Last year, Comparably named financial institution OmegaFi and Atlanta-based Insight Global among its 50 best large or small/midsize companies for women, also based on anonymous employee sentiment ratings.
Known for its new mom benefits, Atlanta law firm Alston and Bird was recognized in AJC's 2017 roundup of companies with cool and unusual perks.
“Attorneys have up to 18 weeks of PTO; staff members are given 12 weeks,” the AJC previously reported. “A&B also offers as much as $10,000 for adoption or surrogate-related expenses. Pregnant moms share clothes through a co-op maternity closet and they even have reserved parking spaces close to an elevator in the last trimester of pregnancy. There are parent support groups and an entire wall is dedicated to displaying the artwork of employees' children.”
Georgia businesses IgnitionOne and Spanx have also been lauded for encouraging "unbelievable work-life balance," according to New York-based career source, The Muse.
» RELATED: Atlanta has highest man-woman pay gap in tech
But while the state is making strides, women in the U.S. working full-time and salaried jobs typically earn approximately 20 percent less than what men in the same positions earned, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A national analysis commissioned by the Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff found that Georgia ranks 17th overall in the gender pay gap. Women in the state earn 18 percent less than men.
» RELATED: Income inequality greater among minority women
Atlanta boasts the highest man-woman pay gap in tech in the country: "a yawning, 72 percent gap," the AJC reported in 2016.
That year, women working full-time or with salary wages had median usual weekly earnings that were 82 percent of those of male full-time wage and salary workers, a slight improvement from the year before.
For working women of color, the gap is even wider when compared to both white men and white women.
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According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, black and Hispanic women with either full or part-time jobs typically earn 38 percent less and 46 percent less than white men, respectively.
Though the gender gap has narrowed since the 1970s, the institute said, it may not close until 2059.
Explore Forbes' full "Best Employers For Women" ranking at forbes.com.
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