What Is the Glass Cliff?

Women in business still face a ton of challenges in the fight for gender equality in the workplace. Of the top Fortune 500 companies, only 4.8 percent are led by women and this number is lower currently than it has been in previous years.

 

The glass ceiling is a well known term that refers to the invisible obstacles women face as they climb the corporate ladder. But what happens once they shatter this ceiling? Research shows that high-achieving women are then thrown off the glass cliff.

 

The glass cliff, uncovered in 2004, is the phenomenon where high performing women are only promoted to top positions such as CEO or allowed to be board members when a company is underperforming or enduring a scandal.

 

Risk of failure is great in these precarious positions. Not only that, but women who accept these top spots are given less time to turn things around than their male counterparts and they’re more likely to be challenged by male stakeholders. Women are 45% more likely than men to be ousted from top positions and then are more likely to be replaced by a man.

 

Jill Abramson, the first female Executive Editor of the New York Times, was fired after less than three years despite successful quarterly earnings. Reports that she was bossy surfaced, but critics argued that would never be a fireable offense for a male leader. Since her ousting none of the top 10 daily newspapers are led by women.

 

Some other high profile examples include former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Carly Fiorina formerly of Hewlett-Packard.

 

There are some examples of high-achieving women who have avoided the glass cliff too. Some well known examples include Ginni Rometty, President of IBM and Mary Barra, CEO of GM.

 

If you do find yourself shattering the glass ceiling, there are steps you can take to try to avoid the glass cliff. These seven actionable tips will help you avoid the glass cliff when you’re up for your next promotion:

Fundera.com

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