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Fortune’s faux pas on ‘Most Powerful’ ranking

Target’s senior executive ranks are filled with women, but don’t look for any of them on Fortune’s recent listing of the 50 most powerful women.

Topping the list in the October 8 issue is IBM president and CEO Ginni Rometty followed by PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, Hewlett-Packard president and CEO Meg Whitman and Kraft Foods chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld. Gracing the cover is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer who recently defected from Google.

The list is dominated by executives who have a "C" somewhere in their title so that could explain the omission of female Target executives from the ranking. Of the 12 members of Target’s executive committee listed on the retailer’s Web site five are female but only one is C-level and one is a president.

Laysha Ward serves as president of community relations, but the nature of her substantial responsibilities doesn’t appear to be the stuff Fortune was looking for based on the composition of its list. Target EVP and CIO, Beth Jacob, might have been considered for inclusion as this year’s ranking tends to be dominated by tech company executives. Target’s other top female executives include Jodee Kozlak, EVP of human resources and Tina Schiel, EVP of stores.

Perhaps the Target executive most worthy of inclusion on the list is EVP of merchandising Kathryn Tesija. The 26 year Target veteran has occupied her current role since 2008 and in that capacity serves as a national tastemaker whose decisions have far-reaching influence on national fashion trends as well as the high velocity consumer packaged goods industry.

Lists of the type Fortune assembled are always highly subjective and the publication offered no rationale for its choices or the ordering, but Tesija is arguably the second most important executive at Target behind all powerful chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel. Her interpretation of the company’s "expect more, pay less," value proposition contributes greatly to the company’s success as the nation’s sixth largest retailer.

While Target was shut out on Fortune’s list, Walmart secured three positions thanks to several high level promotions earlier this year. The retailer’s Sam’s Club division named Rosalind Brewer president and CEO and Gisel Ruiz was named EVP and COO of the Walmart U.S. division. Both are included on the list with Brewer ranked 12th and Ruiz Ranked 21. Also making the list in the 36th position was Susan Chambers, Walmart's EVP of the global people division. The only other remail retail executive to make the list was BJ's Wholesale Club president and CEO Laura Sen. A curious choice given BJ's small size and slow rate of growth, especially when contrasted to Target.

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