FORTUNE reveals 23rd annual list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business

Accenture CEO Julie Sweet tops the list at #1 followed by GM CEO Mary Barra, and Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson; Nearly a third of the 2020 honorees are new or returning to the list

Photo: Courtesy of FORTUNE Media

Today, FORTUNE has announced the 2020 edition of its Most Powerful Women in Business list, which includes 16 FORTUNE 500 CEOs, and the return of Jane Fraser, who in February 2021 will become the first woman to head a major US bank. Top honors go to Accenture CEO Julie Sweet for the first time. Of the selection process for this year’s list, Kristen Bellstrom and Beth Kowitt write, “Simply put, 2020 is the year when we said a final goodbye to business as usual. So as we prepared our 23rd Most Powerful Women list, it became clear that the approach we have taken with this ranking for the past 22 years must change too.”

FORTUNE has used the same four criteria to rank the Most Powerful Women list since its advent in 1998: the size and importance of each woman’s business in the global economy; the health and direction of the business; the arc of her career; and her social and cultural influence. Now, to account for this moment of crisis and uncertainty, as well as positive change, the list also considers how the executives wield their power, and whether they are using their influence to shape their companies and the wider world for the better.

“The result,” Bellstrom and Kowitt continue, “is a list that is more diverse, in every sense of the word, than we’ve had in the past—essentially a list that is more reflective of the moment we’re living in.” The addition of this fifth criterion has paved the way for 13 newcomers to be added to the list (up from 10 newcomers in 2019, and 7 in 2018). It has also led to a drop in the ranking of executives like Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, whose “failure to rein in misinformation on their platforms overshadows their companies’ strong financial performance.”

In his foreword to the November issue, Editor-in-Chief Clifton Leaf discusses FORTUNE’s decision to award Accenture’s Sweet the top spot: “[Accenture], which commands a market cap of close to $150 billion, brought in $44.3 billion in revenue in its latest fiscal year, while profits rose 7% from the previous year. As the team writes: ‘Sweet steered Accenture’s more than half-a-million employees in 51 countries through the pandemic, a crisis that has made the firm’s skills more essential than ever.’ Those skills, in case you’re wondering, involve helping much of the rest of the corporate world get through their own digital transformations. Or as Kristen puts it, succinctly: ‘When the pandemic hit, everybody had to accelerate their five-year plans into a week and a half. That’s what Accenture does.'” 

The Top 10 of Fortunes’S 50 Most Powerful Women 2020

1. Julie Sweet, CEO, Accenture
2. Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors
3. Abigail Johnson, Chairman and CEO, Fidelity Investments
4. Gail Boudreaux, President and CEO, Anthem
5. Carol Tomé, CEO, UPS
6. Jane Fraser, CEO of Global Consumer Banking; President, Citi
7. Ruth Porat, SVP and CFO, Google, Alphabet 
8. Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
9. Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy
10. Judith McKenna, President and CEO, Walmart International, Walmart

See the full list of 50 via this link.


- The top 5 women on the list are the CEOs of their companies: Accenture, General Motors, Fidelity Investments, Anthem, and UPS
– 16 Fortune 500 CEOs are included on the 2020 list.
– The total market cap of public companies led by MPW CEOs is $1.02 trillion.
– There are 13 newcomers to this year’s list.
– Technology and finance are tied as the most represented industries on list, with 10 executives represented from each.
- The first MPW list was published in 1998, and Carly Fiorina took the #1 spot.

Written by Manny King John

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