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Working for Working Mothers

Three McLean companies are named on list of best places for working moms.

Three companies in McLean have been named to Working Mother magazine's list of "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers." "The companies are Booz Allen Hamilton, Freddie Mac and Mitre Corp.

In order to make the list, companies were required to submit detailed information on their family-friendly practices and policies. Companies also supplied data on the gender composition, compensation, employee retention and promotional patterns at each level of the organization.

George Farrar, with Booz Allen Hamilton, said, "The firm has a real dedication to making this a great place to work. What we've learned, in the past six years we've been included on the list, is that the things you do to make it a great place for women to work, make it a great place for everyone to work."

Shawn Flaherty, with Freddie Mac, said, "Work doesn't have to interfere with your ability to have a life." She said that 52 percent of the employees at Freddie Mac are women and that many take advantage of the in-house groups and services offered to make women's lives easier or to share experiences.

Flaherty said the company offers flextime, telecommuting options, full-service day care on-site and backup day care. "We also have several groups for women and issues that are in their lives. We have affinity groups that address the needs of women. We also have a "Sandwich Generation" group, which is a new phenomenon of people caring for children and aging parents at the same time. And we have a group, for men and women, who are caring for children with special needs," said Flaherty of the services that helped Freddie Mac make the list.

WORKING MOTHER media chief executive officer Carol Evans said, "It's an enormous responsibility to care for a family and succeed at a job, and we're thrilled to see the serious commitment of smart companies to help their employees. Today we see stunning innovations, like help with geriatric parents, on-site MBA programs, or supplementary military pay and benefits."

Bill Albright, director of quality work life and benefits for Mitre, said, "We've tried to achieve more than just programs. We've facilitated a culture where the programs get used and people are engaged. It's all about making it real within the company."

Mitre offers a variety of services and programs to strike a "work/life balance," according to Albright. These include flexible work options such as job sharing, part time and telecommuting. The company is noted for its on-site educational opportunities. "We have extensive educational programs. Education is important to our folks. We've got state-of-the-art courses to help them keep up," said Albright. Mitre also provides on-site classrooms for continuing education.

Booz Allen Hamilton, said Farrar, has updated its services targeted to women every few years in order to keep pace with the changing demands or technological upgrades of the workplace. "We continue to evolve. We seek input from our employees every two years on how we can make improvements," said Farrar.

All three companies routinely make inquiries of their employees on how to make things better at the workplace and what additional services should be utilized by the company to improve employees" quality of life.

"One of the things that contributed this year was the policy for flex-work scheduling. We've invested in it heavily with things like laptops, so that our employees can work at home or wherever they are," Farrar said. The firm invested close to $11 million in computers and high-tech equipment to give employees access to Booz Allen Hamilton's knowledge-sharing tools and corporate Intranet.

The firm has a pilot sabbatical leave program, which allows for up to 60 days off for commercial staff, that was singled out by Working Mother magazine.