Despite hard times in the industry, some banks are finding the wherewithal to continue -- and expand -- programs that support working parents.

Six banks were included in Working Mother's sixth annual survey of the 85 best companies for working mothers, reported in the October issue.

"Banks are starting to get there," said Milton Moskowitz, coauthor of "The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America" and the author of the Working Mother study.

A Challenge to Banks

Hugh McColl, chairman of NCNB Corp., further summed it up in a letter to the Harvard Business Review: "Anyone who ignores the challenges and conflicts inherent in the current work-family issues will ultimately pay a huge price in turnover, lost time, and disenchantment with the company."

Following are the banks on Working Mother's list and their programs.

* Citibank has set up three on-site child care centers and charges $2,000 a year. Also offered: up to 24 weeks' childbirth leave and $3,000 in adoption aid plus flextime, job sharing, and work-at-home arrangements.

* Dominion Bankshares, Roanoke, Va., provides on-site day care at $58 to $95 a week. Employees can take five paid days yearly to care for a sick child and four months' childbirth leave.

* NCNB, Charlotte, N.C., pays up to $35 a week for child care if family income is under $35,000. Parents can spend two hours a week of bank-paid time as volunteers in their children's schools. Other benefits: 10 sick days to care for a sick child; up to six months' childbirth leave and six weekss' paid paternity leave (if the father is the primary care-giver); a phase-in for new parents returning to work; and flextime, part-time, job-sharing, and work-at-home programs.

* Northern Trust Corp., Chicago, provides on-site day care at $85 to $120 a week and allows employees two days off to care for family members. Also offered: up to 18 weeks' childbirth leave and 12 weeks' paternity leave, along with flextime, part-time, job-sharing, and work-at-home arrangements.

* South Shore Bank, Chicago, provides loans to 40% of local child care centers and allows up to six months' leave for childbirth. Flextime and part-time arrangements are available.

* Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco, reimburses for costs incurred when employees work overtime or travel for business. Twelve days can be used to care for sick children, and four months for childbirth leave. Flextime, part-time, job-sharing, work-at-home, and compressed-workweek scheduling are offered.

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