Working moms find supportive workplaces

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Rebecca Lucore spent the first four months after her youngest son was born at home with her three boys.

Now, a month since she has been back at work at Bayer USA, she has sampled some of the company's policies that make balancing working and parenting easier.

She starts early in the morning, uses the lactation rooms to express breast milk and leaves her job so she can make it home by 4 p.m. She finishes her workday at home in Pine after her sons -- ages 4, 2 and 5 months -- go to bed.

Her company, and two others in the region, PNC Financial and GlaxoSmithKline, were listed among the 100 best companies for working mothers in the nation by Working Mother Magazine. Included in the annual list were two of the companies that have been lost in the current financial scramble on Wall Street: Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

Knocking them out at the last minute, however, would be impossible because of the lead time needed to print the issue and because the list is based on 2007 data, when both companies were still strong.

Instead of focusing just on working mothers, Sharon Cercone, PNC Financial's manager of Work/Life Strategies, said the company tries to give flexibility to everyone.

"We look at our whole organization, and we see what's the right thing to do for all of our employees."

She said the flexibility that allows working mothers, such as Ann Adams, a project manager in the PNC Grow Up Great program with a 14-month-old son, to compress 10 days of work into nine also can help employees who are caring for aging parents.

PNC has a day care center in its Firstside building at the corner of Grant Street and First Avenue that is for short-term care, such as when baby sitters are sick or the first eight weeks a parent is back from leave. Mrs. Adams, of Shadyside, said she would take breaks from work to see her son and nurse him in the lactation room there.

"It's really nice," she said about the benefits of being a working mother at PNC. "The first week the center would e-mail me photos. These benefits, they help you get through."

Mrs. Cercone said that out of the 29,000 employees at PNC Financial, half of them are on flexible work hours.

"The culture of flexibility supports everyone," she said.

The companies that were chosen as the 2008 Working Mother 100 Best Companies had to fill out a 500-question application that included details about the makeup of the work force, compensation, child care, flexibility programs and leave policies.

Mrs. Cercone said the questionnaire was helpful because PNC used the information it compiled for Working Mother to look at its strengths and where it needed to improve.

She said sometimes the company might hear grumbling from single male employees that benefits for working mothers are not available to them.

She answers those complaints by saying the program of flexibility and the resources are available to all employees "with exception of the lactation rooms."


Ann Belser can be reached at abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.


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