Fighters for social, economic and environmental justice earned places on Fortune’s list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders on Thursday, cited for their exceptional skills at building their organizations’ effectiveness.
Ranging from little known to widely celebrated, those on the influential ranking ranged from activists in remote parts of Africa to the global #Metoo movement against sexual abuse.
The annual list this year focused on what editors at the business magazine called “unbundling”, a process that can mean dividing, separating or outsourcing the roles of organizations.
“For centuries, greater size made companies, nations, and other enterprises more efficient and effective. Increasingly, it doesn’t,” they wrote. “This year’s list puts an emphasis on leaders who are navigating this challenge deftly.”
One such leader is Indira Jaising of the Lawyers Collective in India, which advocates for women, the poor and minorities.
“Indira Jaising’s little NGO punches far above its weight because it can outsource staff and infrastructure; the Internet lets it communicate widely at low cost and enables volunteers to pitch in from around the world,” Fortune said.
Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi made the list for designing low-cost, sustainable housing. This year he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the highest honor in the field.
Among the best-known winners were Bill and Melinda Gates, whose philanthropic foundation has built partnerships to develop insecticides to fight malaria. It also works to rid the technology industry of sex discrimination, the magazine said.
From Health to #MeToo
Elsewhere in global public health, Donald Hopkins, a physician at the Carter Center, was cited for his campaign to eliminate Guinea worm disease.
Angela Nyambura Gichaga, head of Financing Alliance for Health, was listed for designing finance for poor and remote communities in Africa, and Liberian Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee was named for her work on behalf of girls and women.
Katie Bethell of PL+US was cited for promoting paid family-leave benefits at giant U.S. corporations, while Kathleen McLaughlin was honored as chief sustainability officer at Walmart Inc.
Daniel Servitje Montull, head of baking giant Grupo Bimbo , was named for keeping prices accessible for low-income families and buying wind power credits to offset energy use.
Also listed was Feike Sijbesma of Dutch specialty chemicals company DSM, who works with the World Food Programme and Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition and is “particularly effective at rallying fellow executives,” Fortune said.
In China, Ma Jun’s nonprofit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs has gotten the attention of powerful political and corporate leaders, Fortune said.
Attracting attention as well on the Fortune list was the #Metoo movement, in which women have spoken out to recount experiences of sexual harassment and assault.
In the wake of #Metoo has been #TimesUp launched by actresses and others in the entertainment industry. Actress and producer Reese Witherspoon made the list for her founding role.
Separately, Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, also published on Thursday, included journalists from The New Yorker and The New York Times who first reported the accusations of sexual mistreatment in Hollywood.
Others on Time’s list were U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, LGBT community activist Janet Mock and Nice Nailantei Leng’ete who is combating female genital mutilation in Kenya.
This article was written by Ellen Wulfhorst, with additional reporting by Aljohara Alhegelan in London, and edited by Belinda Goldsmith for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.