Fortune created Most Powerful Women as a cover package in 1998 with a simple idea that women were gaining significant power in the corporate world and had become a lot more interesting than in the old days when women leaders, to thrive, had to behave like men.
We started with Fortune’s annual Most Powerful Women list, which ranks the top 50 women in corporate America. We measure the women on four criteria: the size and importance of her business in the global economy, the health and direction of her business, the arc of her career (how quickly she has moved up and where she’s likely to go from here), and social and cultural influence.
The list has become a community, with live events and programs that enable the MPW to use their power wisely and globally. The MPW community includes the most prominent women leaders in business, philanthropy, government, education, and the arts.
In 2006, Fortune and the U.S. State Department launched the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. The program brings rising-star women from developing countries to the U.S. each May to shadow participants of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. We then follow them as they “pay it forward” back in their home countries.
The program begins with an orientation in Washington, D.C., where mentees interface with women leaders in government, business, academic, civil society and the media. Participants then relocate to the offices of a top American female executive for an onsite mentorship assignment, in which each woman shadows their mentor and learns from the best practices of their host company. At the end of the mentorship, mentees reconvene in New York City to collectively reflect on their experience and discuss the future trajectory of their leadership path.
MPW mentors have included CEOs and top woman executives from Xerox, Tory Burch, Yahoo, ADM, Wal-Mart, Google, General Electric, Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, Juniper Networks, American Express and Goldman Sachs. This program has proved to be a rich, personal experience for both the mentors and the mentees—with lasting friendships formed and exponential results. Over the last 11 years, more than 270 women from 58 developing countries have participated in the program.
The annual Goldman Sachs-Fortune Global Women Leaders Award honors star alumni of the program who have returned home and paid it forward in extraordinary ways.