Inside Our 2016 Most Powerful Women List
2016. It’s been a year filled with turbulence, sure—but also with so much possibility for women. As we unveil Fortune’s 19th Most Powerful Woman package, we begin by noting the woman of that description who is not on our list—Hillary Clinton. Let’s state the obvious: Whether she is elected President in November or not, her candidacy is already having more impact on the nation than any woman in recent memory. (For more on what a Clinton presidency might mean to American business, see here.)
But this year’s list, as always, measures only active corporate executives. So we have focused instead on 50 women leaders who, together, help run companies valued well more than $1 trillion. They include such shining stars as GM’s (GM) Mary Barra, Google and Alphabet (GOOGL) CFO Ruth Porat, GE (GE) vice chair Beth Comstock, and Home Depot’s (HD) indefatigable new head of U.S. stores, Ann-Marie Campbell. Equally impressive are the names on our international roster—such as Güler Sabanci, the head of Turkish conglomerate Sabanci Holding, who is leading in a time of national turmoil there.
For all the progress made by women in business, however, there is a big catch: Some of the best leaders find themselves sidelined at the peak of their careers—a phenomenon we chronicle in “The Disappeared,” (publishing on the site soon). It’s the sort of agonizing state of affairs that comedian and late-night talk-show host Samantha Bee probes brilliantly. In an election year so weird that reality has outpaced fiction, Bee has been striking a pitch-perfect tone—equal parts cutting and incredulous. (Check back on the site for her profile.) When it comes to power, every one of these women could light up a city.
Methodology for our Most Powerful Women list:
The Most Powerful Women in Business list is compiled by Fortune editors, who consider four criteria: the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career (résumé and runway ahead), and social and cultural influence.
A version of this article appears in the September 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “50 Most Powerful Women.”