When Patty Cory left her previous company after twenty years to join PJM Interconnection, she never expected that her new employer would do so much to enrich her life and that of her family.Cory's 21-year-old daughter has Crohn's disease, a chronic gastrointestinal condition that, as Patty puts it, gives her "good days and bad ones." It helps that the Cory family can go to the community center together, using the gym, swimming, or participating in one of the many fitness classes. And PJM made the community center membership possible.
"The benefits that they offer at PJM have been a real enhancement to my life, especially 'Play Money,'" Cory says. "'Play Money' is a $500 reimbursement that they offer for something that we do with our families."
PJM Interconnection is one of 35 companies chosen for the Center for Companies that Care 2007 Honor Roll, which Fast Company sponsors as a media partner. The Center for Companies that Care, a not-for-profit organization, strives to make businesses more conscious of the human toll of their decisions and recognizes companies that have put in the extra effort for their employees.
"I was in the human resources field for about 25 years, and I heard thousands of employees talking in focus groups about their work experiences and their life experiences," Marci Koblenz, the Center's co-founder and president, says. "There were a few things that emerged as very clear differences among companies. Some employers were concerned about the well being of their employees and it permeated everything they did. In those organizations the employees felt it and they really aligned their own values with those of the company. You could see they tried hard to make the business successful because they felt the business was trying hard to help them be successful."
Koblenz spent two years refining the goals of the Center. That effort yielded a set of ten characteristics to define Honor Roll companies, addressing ethics, community service, dignity and respect, encouragement, leadership, and appreciation. "I thought that if there was a standard out there that said, 'this is what companies should be,' and 'these are the characteristics of a company that cares,' then more companies could work toward them on their own," she says.
To be chosen as an Honor Roll awardee, a company must spend 12 to 15 hours filling out an application. The Center also looks at worker satisfaction surveys and the state of employee-related programs. "We assess the company on a quantitative perspective if a company has at least a 75% favorability concerning the ten characteristics," Cynthia Cobb, a board member of the Center, says.
This is the Center's fifth annual list of caring companies. Now it's looking to expand its reach, working to attract companies nationwide to apply. It also hopes to use the Center's Web site as a mechanism for workers to report on their employers' efforts—"because caring is subjective," Cobb says. "We don't want to tell employees what it means to be cared for, we want to hear it from them."
The 2007 Center for Companies that Care Honor Roll
Analytical Graphics Inc.
Baxter Credit Union
Bon Secours Richmond Health System
California Independent System Operator
CHAN Healthcare Auditors
Convergint Technologies LLC
Delnor-Community Health System
Enterprise Fleet Services
General Growth Properties, Inc.
Grand View Hospital - Sellersville, PA
Grant Thornton LLP
HDR Design-Build, Inc.
Lake Forest Graduate School of Management
Legacy Health System
Office Depot, Inc.
Ohio Savings Bank
Opto Technology, Inc.
Rush University Medical Center
Sage Products, Inc.
Talecris Biotherapeutics, Inc.
TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc.
The Care of Trees
The Supply Room Companies
Triangle Printers Inc.
University HealthSystem Consortium
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System
The Ten Characteristics of a Caring Company
- Sustains a work environment founded on dignity and respect for all employees.
- Makes employees feel their jobs are important.
- Cultivates the full potential of all employees.
- Encourages individual pursuit of work/life balance.
- Enables the well-being of individuals and their families through compensation, benefits, policies and practices.
- Develops great leaders, at all levels, who excel at managing people as well as results.
- Appreciates and recognize the contributions of people who work there.
- Establishes and communicate standards for ethical behavior and integrity.
- Gets involved in community endeavors and/or public policy.
- Considers the human toll when making business decisions.