Video: Companies that help working moms

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 9/20/2006 12:14:00 PM ET 2006-09-20T16:14:00

At 2:50 in the afternoon, Ondine Wallinger finishes one job and starts another, going from bank purchasing coordinator to mom.

Her employer allows her to set her own hours, as long as she gets her work done.

"Family comes first," she says, "and if work isn't willing to put them, put my family first, then I can't work."

It's one way some American companies are changing to keep working moms on the job. Ondine's employer, Milwaukee's Pyramax Bank, says flextime also helps its bottom line.

"You're saving on interview time, training time, ramp up time, mistake time," says Monica Baker with Pyramax.

At Deloitte & Touche, men and women enter the business services firm in equal numbers.      

"But when we looked around into our upper ranks and partners, we realized women were significantly underrepresented," says Cathy Benko.

Women who became moms weren't coming back. So Deloitte is investing in moms taking time off, offering career counseling and the occasional assignment, hoping they'll return.

"It helps me keep my confidence that I'll be able to go back and make a contribution," says Cathy Nichols.

Deloitte's cost is $2,500 per person, compared to two times their salary to replace them.

Business professor Monica McGrath says these companies are exceptions and corporate America isn't doing enough to retain mothers.           

"I think they don't feel the pinch yet, economically," she says.

McGrath says corporations will realize the potential of returning moms as boomers retire.

But some attorneys we met, at a lunch hour flextime seminar, can't wait that long.

"I'm hoping a mother makes me a more interesting and richer person," says Ilyssa Sena with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, "and [I] have something different and better to bring to the practice of law."

At Pyramax Bank, flextime is now offered to all employees, delivering big returns to the workers and the company.

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