Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File
Fortune Magazine released its list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” today and more than half of them are women —26, to be exact.
The publication ranked a diverse set of women as power players in industries like government, media, entertainment and philanthropy.
Four women made it to the top 10: Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, came in at #4, Film Director and Screenwriter Ava DuVernay at #6, Tsai Ing-Wen, the first female (and current) president of Taiwan, at #8 and Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, rounded out #10.
Author Geoff Colvin pointed out “three lessons” on leadership we can learn from everyone on the list this year. They “acknowledge reality and offer hope,” “bring followers physically together,” and “build bridges,” Colvin wrote.
You don’t have to be famous to be a leader
You might be thinking, well, that’s great and all, but what about the hardworking women (and men) who I work with everyday?
Fortune emphasized that we shouldn’t forget about the great leaders who don’t get big magazine spreads.
“Remember as you scan our list that we evaluate each leader within his or her own field of endeavor. Someone leading a small organization effectively may rank above someone far more famous nudging global issues….The point is that great leaders can be anywhere—at the helm of a giant corporation, running a rural college, or in a cramped office exerting influence through sheer personal energy,” Colvin wrote.
Women in leadership positions are still rare
While more than half of the people on “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list were women, it’s clear that women who are diverse in every sense of the word are underrepresented in professional jobs.
Nonprofit organization Catalyst named all the women who are currently CEOs at S&P 500 companies, according to the January 2017 S&P 500 list published by Dow Jones.
They found that women only hold 29 CEO positions at those companies— a mere 5.8% of CEOs, a small proportion compared to women as roughly half the population of America. The discrepancy has motivated executives including Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, and Sallie Krawcheck, formerly of Bank of America, to write books and give speeches about what women can do to further their positions in corporate America. Sandberg’s TED talk on why we have too few women leaders is a popular one.
Women of color often hold even far fewer leadership positions.
Hispanic women make up 6.2% of the private sector workforce, but only 1.3% of private sector senior-level executives, according to a chart in a report by the American Association of University Women, which used 2014 data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The same chart showed that Black women make up 7.9% of the private sector workforce, but only 1.5% of private sector senior-level executives.
The irony? Many studies show that companies with more women on their boards and more women on their teams perform well financially and earn better revenues and stronger profits.