Saturday, August 22, 2009

Forbes world's-most-powerful-women list

The recent Forbe's survey provides some insight into how things have changed for women in business in a short time. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, proves to be a real influence on today's list. She was unexpectedly (and unfairly I believe) ousted by HP's all male board. Then, as a very public advisor for Presidential candidate John McCain, made the unfortunate blunder stating that McCain was not qualified to run a company like HP. Despite some of the harsh treatment she has received from critics, she proves a trail blazer for inclusiveness in the executive suite.

To see how things have changed since Fiorina became the 1st female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, let's take a quick look at who holds the top spots on the list today compared to 5 years ago.

In 2009, of the top two spots, both are in government service, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US FDIC Chair Sheila Bair. The next eight spots are held by Chief Executive Officers of major corporations. (Self interested insight: George Washington University (Law School) grad Mary Shapiro, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be ranked higher, she came in only at 56).

In contrast to 2004, the first year Forbes began the ranking, Carly was ranked 10th, and the only Chief executive in the top 10, behind the likes of then first lady Laura Bush, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and sitting in the top spot, then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Did Carly help more women make it to the top, there seems to be an argument that she did, if for no other reason than by blazing the trail for women in the Executive suite.

Check out the 2009 list here:
http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/18/worlds-most-powerful-women-forbes-woman-power-women-09-angela-merkel_land.html

And the 2004 list here:
http://www.forbes.com/2004/08/18/04powomland.html

13 comments:

Amy said...

I'm happy to see more titles like "Chairman" and "Chief Executive" in the 2009 top 10, versus 2004's. Not to discount the importance of women assuming leadership roles in government/public service, but I think that (for better or, more recently, worse) true economic power is wielded in the Boardroom.

Christina said...

I believe that as the majority of baby boomers begin to retire, more women will be recognized for their experience and leadership capabilities and will certainly rise in the corporate and public sector leadership rankings. With a strong percentage of women graduating with advanced degrees such as MBAs we are going to see women equally represented in the boardroom one day.

Brianna said...

I'm happy to see how much women have advanced in just a few years. I think that one of the biggest obstacles that female leaders must overcome is the lack of support from other women, including ourselves. What I love about Generation Next is that we have faith in our own abilities and in the abilities of other women.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, given McClelland's theory on power, affiliation and achievement and our discussion yesterday that power makes for a better manager. The article points out the constant struggle to achieve yet be nice...hit home with me.

It's titled "You Are Your Own Glass Ceiling" and talks about stop being a good girl to get a raise and get ahead.

By Jessica Bennett | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Aug 31, 2009

Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/214608

Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly Ms. Fiorina has influenced the inclusion of women into recognized rankings traditionally held by male leaders. However, she has said, "After striving my entire career to be judged by my results and my decisions, the coverage of my gender, my appearance and perceptions of my personality would outweigh anything else."

That still appears to be the prevalent legacy of the commentary on her tenure as CEO, as evidenced by Carla Marinucci's conclusion on a recent blog post (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/nov05election/detail?blogid=14&entry_id=46595#ixzz0Q0RGNNR8) about Meg Whitman's absence from a "debate". Marinucci's closing salvo to Ms. Whitman is, "But just a thought: if it starts to look like there's too much heat in this kitchen for the political rookie CEO -- heat that the male candidates will show up to take -- then Meg's political goose could get cooked, fast."

Marinucci, a female journalist, seasoned professional and well-regarded California political commentator qualifies Whitman's gender as the reason her risk in this scenario is higher than her competitors. Marinucci doesn't entertain other possibilities, including on-the-record statements provided by an official spokesperson, or that as a political calculation, those with lesser known name-ID stand to benefit from debates and other public forums. Marinucci judges Whitman's decisions by her gender.

Many may believe glass ceilings are broken daily by individuals, and symbolically for many by individuals of Ms. Fiorina 's and Ms. Whitman's stature. However, while Ms. Fiorina and Ms. Whitman are mentioned together as potential candidates for public office, "female" often precedes "candidate". Until this qualifier is no longer compelling social commentary, Ms. Fiorina's success in 2004 according to Forbes serves as a cautionary tale that despite public recognition, success is qualified by personal traits - good or bad.

Sinead D said...

Fiorina and others may be successful leaders but to say the glass ceiling has been broken is not quite true yet.

Forbes list of 100 world's most powerful women list is inspiring, but lets take a look at some of their other lists.

Forbes Top Billionaires: Of the top 20, two are women are both happen have the last name, Walton's, with inherited wealth from the Wal-Mart chain. This is in comparison to the other 18, who are all men (12 of which who are self made, 2 of which who are also Waltons and only 4 others who also inherited wealth)http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/11/worlds-richest-people-billionaires-2009-billionaires_land.html

How about top publicly traded companies? Not one of them has a female CEO.
See Forbes' list of the top 25 publically traded companies:
http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/08/global-2000-largest-business-global-09-top-25_slide.html

Fiorina is the exception and not the norm. Unfortunately, the only Forbes lists where women dominate are the lists entitled: powerful women.

How about this food for thought:

As Amy said above, "true economic power is wielded in the boardroom". Would the financial meltdown have happened if more women were in executive positions and in the boardroom? What do you think?

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/10/eveningnews/main5301487.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Scott said...

Here is a video examining the list of the 100 most powerful women in business:

http://money.cnn.com/video/fortune/2009/09/09/f_mpw_list_overview.fortune

I found it quite interesting that they compile this list without the use of surveys, but instead have a panel that "argues" over the importance of certain women in business until a consensus is reached. Relating to our readings, it is stated how social influence is a big factor in how high the women are ranked (as explained by Oprah being in the top 10).

And here is a four minute interview with Pepsi CEO, and #1 ranked woman in business, Indra Nooyi, discussing career paths:

http://money.cnn.com/video/fortune/2009/09/08/f_mpw_nooyi_ceo_path.fortune

Julia Szymkowiak said...

I believe that Carly is a great example and good start for increasing the spotlight on women advancing into the c-suite and other top ranking positions in companies. Although, the foundation for advancing women within companies begins with the leadership and advancement programs within companies and firms. Without a commitment from other c-suite and corporate board members, regardless of sex, these efforts will not go far. For example, Deloitte's Women's Initiative (WIN) is a nationally recognized program that is dedicated to the advancement and retention of women. Recently, Deloitte reached the milestone of exceeding the 1,000 mark for female partners, principals, and directors. Although this is not solely due to the influence and existence of WIN, having a formalized group of practitioners across the country and horizontally and vertically throughout the organization, dedicated to the sole purpose of developing and retaining female leaders, demonstrates the ability and capacity for programs like WIN to have a positive effect on women’s careers. Deloitte being as large as it is, having thousands of practitioners, ranging from c-suite executives to newly hired analysts, promoting and working towards this common goal, provides the ability for women to share, mentor, and learn from women, and men, what skills and abilities are intrinsic to leaders of the firm and also what helps to define our culture. Through these types of programs, we will see more Carly’s and Hillary’s.

http://www.deloitte.com/print/en_US/us/press/Press-Releases/press-release/d3e3cf6d88912210VgnVCM100000ba42f00aRCRD.htm

Julia S. said...

I believe that Carly is a great example and good start for increasing the spotlight on women advancing into the c-suite and other top ranking positions in companies. Although, the foundation for advancing women within companies begins with the leadership and advancement programs within companies and firms. Without a commitment from other c-suite and corporate board members, regardless of sex, these efforts will not go far. For example, Deloitte's Women's Initiative (WIN) is a nationally recognized program that is dedicated to the advancement and retention of women. Recently, Deloitte reached the milestone of exceeding the 1,000 mark for female partners, principals, and directors. Although this is not solely due to the influence and existence of WIN, having a formalized group of practitioners across the country and horizontally and vertically throughout the organization, dedicated to the sole purpose of developing and retaining female leaders, demonstrates the ability and capacity for programs like WIN to have a positive effect on women’s careers. Deloitte being as large as it is, having thousands of practitioners, ranging from c-suite executives to newly hired analysts, promoting and working towards this common goal, provides the ability for women to share, mentor, and learn from women, and men, what skills and abilities are intrinsic to leaders of the firm and also what helps to define our culture. Through these types of programs, we will see more Carly’s and Hillary’s.


http://www.deloitte.com/print/en_US/us/press/Press-Releases/press-release/d3e3cf6d88912210VgnVCM100000ba42f00aRCRD.htm

Erin Gaughan said...

It's interesting to note that two of the women in the top 100 list are EVPs at HP. The organization continues to pave the way for women in business.

While American women hold the majority of spots in the top 100, it's inspiring to see that women are rising in other places around the globe as well.

At home in the political arena, one year ago a heated presidential race was taking place. One woman's fate had already been decided, as she stepped aside when the current president was awarded her party's bid. The other major party filled the VP spot with a woman for only the second time ever. Politics and specific individuals aside, the last year has been monumental for women.

We'll see more and more women making strides in business and politics for years to come.

student 1 said...

A recent article in the Economist questions whether the financial crisis would of occurred (or at the same strength) if Lehman Brothers was Lehmen Sisters. This argument assumes many things. One of them is that women avoid or take less risks than men. Is that true? Bringing it back to Carly and HP - would she have gotten as far in her career without taking risks on restructing HP? If she was a man, would the outcome have been different for her? It's fascinating that we are in 2009 and still do not have the answers to these questions.

http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14177408

shelly said...

Leaders such as Carli Fiorina have definitely helped pave the way for future women leaders. As we see more women leaders rising to the top executive status, in parallel, we see a growing number of women pursuing a Masters in Business Administration. This trend really shows that the new generation of talented women are entering the workforce with solid long term career goals. American society is further adjusting to the idea of women joining the ranks of the top executives. Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma around some established major corporations that the executive rank is like a boy’s club, but with this fast shifting attention to rising women executives, we are seeing a big change in this mentality.

bkleiners said...

I am shocked that Oprah Winfrey didn't make this list given the influence she wields. She could take on any business venture she pleases and be successful at it.