Twitter and the Glass Cliff

    In the news today it is all about how Elon is stepping down from Twitter and is going to appoint a yet unnamed woman to be the CEO. Interestingly, this follows an established pattern of hiring women into key executive roles after a male key executive has broken the company.

    The Glass Cliff” phenomenon refers to a situation in which women and underrepresented individuals are more likely to become senior leaders during a crisis or when the likelihood of failure is high. Due to the precarious nature of these positions, the “glass cliff” is so named.

    There is a simple explanation for the “glass cliff” phenomenon: if a company is already in a difficult situation, it may appoint women or underrepresented individuals to leadership roles.

    It may be necessary for an organization to undergo change or hire new leadership when facing challenges or going through a downturn. Compared to the male-dominated leadership in most organizations, women or underrepresented people may offer a fresh perspective or a different style of leadership.

    Underrepresented individuals and women are often appointed to leadership positions in crisis situations as a symbol of inclusion and diversity. The appearance of progress and the breaking down of gender and diversity barriers is conveyed.

    It may be difficult for women and underrepresented groups to advance and be represented in leadership roles. Despite challenging circumstances, they may accept leadership positions because they offer career advancement and the chance to break down barriers.

    These leaders, however, are also at risk from the “glass cliff.” When faced with challenging circumstances, they may face higher expectations, limited resources, and a greater chance of failure. They may be blamed for the failure if they are unable to turn the situation around, perpetuating gender and diversity biases.

    It’s fascinating that Twitter would do this, and apparently, rumor has it that Linda Yaccarino (Wall Street Journal, Soft Paywall) (Archive Link) is “in talks” to be the new CEO of Twitter. She has a long hard job ahead of her; let’s hope that she has not been set up for failure and will have the resources needed to bring Twitter back from the moribund dead.

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