Corporate Compliance Today: The Glass Ceiling Is Bad Enough. Women in Leadership Also Need to Be Wary of the Glass Cliff.

I was invited by Corporate Compliance Today to write a piece outlining the Glass Cliff phenomenon, and why life beyond the Glass Ceiling might not have been as smooth sailing as we’ve been led to expect.

As shocking as this might seem, when we stop to think about it, many of us will realize that although we might not have had the words to frame it up to now, we are all familiar with the experience of the glass cliff, and have seen it play out for women in leadership in all kinds of circumstances.

Think of Theresa May stepping in to negotiate and lead a Brexit deal for a referendum she didn’t call and wasn’t in favor of, once the men who had led the country to that point were suddenly nowhere to be found, before being pushed out and replaced by a white male to get the deal over the line. Think about Marissa Mayer’s short-lived stint as the CEO of Yahoo after the business had struggled to find its place in the big tech landscape, or Helena Helmersson, the H&M Group CEO who was exited at the end of January this year. 

Which begs the question, why is this happening? Why would a business that is facing a crisis be more likely to turn to a female leader for the first time? And why are women being left in charge of failing, and falling off their own glass cliffs, potentially damaging their own reputations along the way, as they try to rescue businesses from issues they didn’t create?

Sophie Williams – Author, The Glass Cliff

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