Hope amid challenge seemed to be the theme of Forbes’s recently released list of the World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies. The report surveyed 85,000 women in 40 countries and shed light on important issues such as pay equity and parental leave. And while the pandemic presented many setbacks for women, progress for gender equality in the workplace is also evident.

As of January 2021, almost 3 million women had left the workforce in the U.S., and worldwide women lost over 64 million jobs and at least $800 billion in earnings during the last year. The World Economic Forum now estimates that it will take 135.6 years to close the global gender pay gap, previously estimated at 99.5 years. But some silver linings did emerge from the pandemic and resulting lifestyle changes. Remote work is now considered a priority instead of a perk. And, in light of the talent shortage, savvy employers are focusing on promoting and supporting women to attract workers. 

Forbes’s list of top female-friendly companies is led by Hershey (#1 on the list), who in 2017 named Michele Buck as their first woman CEO. Zoom Video Communications (#9) has redesigned their hiring and recruiting strategies to reduce bias and increase female hires. And The Estée Lauder Cos. (#19) reports that more than three-quarters (82%) of their global workforce is female, with women holding over half (59%) of positions at the global vice president level and above. 

This is just a peek at the headway made by this group of progressive companies. The top 10 female friendly-companies on the list are as follows:

  1. The Hershey Company
  2. Southwest Airlines
  3. Miele Gruppe
  4. Skanska
  5. Citrix Systems
  6. Spotify Technology
  7. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and its affiliates
  8. AptarGroup
  9. Zoom Video Communications
  10. Iberdrola