On Friday, Forbes released its “America’s 100 Most Innovative Leaders” list. Featuring tech giants like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, it held very few surprises, apart from one glaring issue: The lineup only included one woman. Ross Stores CEO Barbara Rentler was ranked 75 on the list. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the social media outcry to begin. “Not even a photo of Barbara Rentler,” one Twitter user wrote.
The imbalanced list raised many questions over how the rankings were actually decided. Per the publication, two male business school professors and a male consultant compiled the rankings, which were decided based on four factors: media reputation for innovation, social connections and capital, track record for value creation, and investor expectations for value creation.
Today, Forbes’s editor Randall Lane responded to the backlash on the publication’s website. Acknowledging the Twitter furore, Lane wrote: ”The core social message—that Forbes editors picked 100 innovative leaders, while including only one woman—would anger me too.“ He went on to describe the decision-making in further detail, before diving into the broader industry problems that fed into the misstep: “Women, as we all know, are poorly represented at the top of the largest corporations (just 5% of the S&P 500) and fare even worse among growing public tech companies. In other words, for all our carefully-calibrated methodology, women never had much of a chance here.”
Lane claimed the list as a “learning moment” and went on to highlight other lists Forbes has created that have been focused on women, such as the “Richest Self-Made Women” list, which included stars such as Rihanna and Kylie Jenner, both of whom having booming beauty businesses.
The mea culpa ended on a forward-looking note, promising “a rethink of America’s Most Innovative Leaders.” One suggestion: Perhaps next time a woman should be involved in making it.
Originally Appeared on Vogue