Features, Leadership

Ever Growing List of Forbes Women: A Promising Shift Towards Diversity

Celebrating accomplished women in different industries helps to show girls that they can be whatever they want to be. While having role models who represent them is vital for inspiration; this is especially important in inspiring girls to dream big, which goes a long way in helping girls become women who are confident of their place in the world.

 – global citizen.

Forbes 30 under 30 is a set of lists of people under 30 years old issued annually by Forbes magazine and some of its regional editions. The American lists recognise 600 business and industry figures, with 30 selected in twenty industries each. Asia and Europe have ten categories for a total of 300 each, while Africa has a single list of 30 people.

It launched its 30 under 30 list in 2011 under the direction of Randall Lane. By 2016, the nominations for the list had reached more than 15,000, with Forbes editors selecting 30 winners for each of the 20 categories. Over time, Forbes has expanded the feature to establish continental lists for Asia, Europe and Africa.

Sooner than later, the Forbes 30 under 30 list had drawn some criticism, including that of the under-recognition of young racial minorities and women. The Root observed that 29 of 30 journalists honoured on the inaugural media list in 2011 were white. Elle South Africa noted that there was a gender imbalance of the 2014 lists, asking, “where are the women?”. And while the demographics continued to draw interest; Poynter reported that the 2015 media list had 18 women, which was the most in the list’s five-year history.

It’s in response to criticism that Forbes launched in 2020 “Power Rising: These Are the Women to Watch” along with publishing a list of the world’s 100 most powerful women. In 2021, Forbes published “black futures month: 8 black entrepreneurs and nonprofit organisations from underrepresented groups share their experiences. And more publications have since been released to show support to women.

The bar to gain entry into the World’s Most Powerful Women list is quite high. Women who make the top 100 are billionaires, heads of states, founders of companies and superstars with legions of social media devotees. They are also women who have held their positions of power long enough to make a measurable impact.

While these lists showcase incredible women, the ever increasing list of Forbes Africa women is a promising shift towards diversity. Celebrating accomplished women in different industries helps to show girls that they can be whatever they want to be. The mere recognition and celebration of women is motivation to fellow women across the continent to recognise their own power and to own it. That also stands as inspiration to young girls and these are stories that should be shared among them regularly. While having role models who represent them is vital for inspiration; this is especially important in inspiring girls to dream big, which goes a long way in helping girls become women who are confident of their place in the world.

This support is crucial especially in light of the known positive impacts diversity can bring. As more women are getting recognition, more women are stepping into their power and filling up spaces in workplaces and building businesses, with more organisations beginning to listen and making slight adjustments to accommodate and support women. And for business and economic development, supporting diversity, and in particular women, can help boost businesses and the overall economy.

Like so much in 2021, the state of female power around the world looks a bit different than it did just one or two years ago. Women have gained ground in the c-suite- among the women on Forbes’ 18th annual list of the world’s 100 most powerful women are 40 CEOs, the most since 2015, who oversee a record $3.3 trillion in revenue. But what they gained in the boardroom, they lost elsewhere. For instance, there are two fewer female heads of states than a two year ago.

Nothing illustrates the dynamics of the 2021 Forbes list better than the change at the very top. Forbes’ 18th annual list of power women includes 40 CEOs, 19 world leaders, an immunologist and, for the first time in more than a decade, a new number one. Here’s a Top Three list from the 100 Powerful Women in The World according to Forbes.

The honour of topping the list goes to billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. She’s the third richest woman in the world, but it is her unfettered access to that money-and her determination to donate it in a way that is meaningful and revolutionary-that puts her above the competition. Just behind her at No. 2 is US vice president Kamala Harris, who moves up one spot now that she’s in office, swapping places with Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank who is now No.3.

All these women and so many more represent the driving thesis behind the compilation of the list: it’s not enough to have money, or a position of power. A person must be doing something with their fortune, voice or public platform.

Photo Credit: (c) Forbes

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