Working Mother magazine's list of best companies for working moms aside, America has a long way to go before the workplace is truly family-friendly.

I always look forward to seeing Working Mother‘s annual list of 100 “Best Companies” for working moms. It’s exciting to read about what the most forward-thinking employers are doing to help attract and retain top talent—including those of us who just happen to be women and parents.

But then Ms. had to go and harsh my buzz, as my coworker Dennis likes to say. In its Feminist Wire Daily Newsbrief yesterday, Ms. reported:

24 percent of the Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies of 2006 provide four or fewer weeks of paid maternity leave and 52 percent provide six weeks or less. Seven percent offer no paid maternity leave whatsoever and another seven percent provide only one to two weeks. Almost half of these companies do not provide any kind of paid leave for paternity or adoption.

Daaaaamn. If that’s the “best,” then I guess we know how lousy the “average” and “worst” companies are for working moms. (Hell, let’s face it. We already knew it. But it’s still a bummer to face reality.)

This is why I don’t buy the argument that the “free market” will magically incentivize corporations to treat their working-parent employees right. It hasn’t, and it won’t. Without some federal laws and enforcement in place to mandate better benefits, the current “best” will be all we can hope for.

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