SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Forbes’ annual list of the 100 Most Innovative Leaders in the business world is generating an unexpected buzz and backlash after the magazine selected 99 men and just one woman.
Critics say the list is disappointing, anachronistic and one-sided, sending exactly the wrong message to young women aspiring to careers in business.
“It is disappointing that there is a list that comes out with only one woman that makes it. So, it is a reflection of the fact that we don’t have as many women in the C-Suite as we should,” said Meg Virick, the Associate Dean of San Jose State’s Lucas College of Business.
The Forbes list features several well-known Silicon Valley CEOs like Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
The one woman to make the list was Ross Stores CEO Barbara Rentler. She did not respond to multiple calls for comment on the list.
Critics, however, have questioned the methodology used to generate a list on which women are so grossly underrepresented.
“It’s simply wrong to say that women are not innovative — that women are not achieving in the workforce and in the halls of our corporations. That would be factually incorrect and a hurtful and damaging conclusion,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley.
Hancock says the Forbes list does point to larger problems in the business world where women hold far fewer leadership positions than men.
For example, there are currently 27 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies — just 5.4%.
Forbes Magazine says they should have re-examined how the list was generated to see if criteria were used that unfairly excluded women.
Forbes editor Randall Lane wrote in an online post, “We should have used this moment to delve into the larger problem of women ascending to CEO. We own that.”