Dear Forbes: You Got 99 Innovators, but a Woman Is Just 1?

Dear Forbes: You Got 99 Innovators, but a Woman Is Just 1?

Like most people who reviewed Forbes' list of “America’s Most Innovative Leaders,” we were shocked. Not only by Forbes’ decision to go to press despite the painfully obvious lack of women on the list, but also by its poorly considered methodology

The evaluators chose to focus only on CEOs from very large companies, valuing only financial growth rate, media reputations, social connections and expected future growth.

The Real Solution = Innovation By All

We happen to know a thing or two about innovation and good research methodologies. Great Place to Work is the global authority on workplace culture, employee experience, leadership, and trust. We study innovation and the leaders that inspire it at companies around the globe. 

In fact, our data science team has been researching exactly how the Best Workplaces in the US practice innovation for the past year in our Innovation Insights series.  The key?  Innovation BY ALL.  Not just a couple of dudes at the top. 

In one of our recent studies, Great Place to Work surveyed 500,000 U.S. employees at nearly 800 public and privately-owned companies.

Employees were asked how often they were included in decisions, whether they felt management was interested in their ideas and whether they were encouraged to try new approaches to their work.

The results were clear — companies that welcome ideas from all employees have better growth prospects than those with a less-inclusive approach to innovation.  We call that Innovation By All.

In fact, businesses with an 'Innovation By All' culture see revenue growth that is 5.5x greater because they know how to tap into the innovation potential of all their employees.

Innovative Women Leaders are Everywhere

As part of our 2019 annual summit, we developed our own Innovative Leaders List. Our methodology made it easy for people at all levels of the organization to participate since we know that innovation isn't just a top-down initiative.

We looked for innovations that resulted in a significant, quantifiable impact on the business's success. Holly Petroff, Executive Vice President, Global Strategic Advisors at Great Place to Work knows that innovation hinges on people, not profits.

"In March, we honored some of the most innovative leaders in our country. I'm proud to say that half of the people we recognized were women leaders. These leaders seek ideas and input from employees across their businesses, no matter who they are or what they do, because that's how businesses drive innovation."

Here are just a few of the women we honored that Forbes missed because of the biased list criteria:

April Anthony, the Chief Executive Officer of Encompass Health, founded the company in 1998.

Her visionary leadership includes a commitment to equip team members with the tools, education, and training necessary to enhance their professional knowledge and skills, thus enabling them to provide exceptional patient care and customer service. 

Kristi Sanders is the Global VP of the Well-Being at Work initiative at SAP SuccessFactors. Her overall responsibility is to formalize SAP’s desire to operationalize a culture of well-being in the workplace, enabling employees and the business to run better.

Kristi’s team focuses on improving the employee experience and providing tools and resources to bring the best version of themselves to work.

The purpose is to drive well-being as a business leadership objective, create a positive work environment, and integrate well-being into their customers’ business strategies.

Heather Brunner is Chairwoman and CEO of WP Engine, the WordPress Digital Experience Platform that powers 500,000 experiences for 85,000 customers across 135 countries.

Heather capitalized on the global market potential for digital experiences, outlining the ways in which WP Engine plans to own the space across marketing, sales, product, and customer experience.

Press mentions, market value and social influence aren’t the most important markers of innovation. The ability to unleash the full creative potential of employees is. Learn more about just a few of the innovative female leaders forging ahead at Best Workplaces in our 2019 Honoree Booklet.


Claire Hastwell