April 29, 2014

The "glass cliff" — explaining the high rate of firing female CEOs.

"Over the past 10 years, 38 percent of female chief executives of the world's 2,500 biggest public companies were fired, compared to 27 percent of their male counterparts."

The "glass cliff" theory attributes the failure rate of females to the tendency to hire females when
the company is already in trouble:
Women are treated as exotic outsiders, brought to the helm when board members are feeling adventurous (mainly out of necessity). They have to prove their worth in situations that powerful men suspect may be hopeless.

58 comments:

chickenlittle said...

Counterexample: Patricia Woertz

D.D. said...

It's just the "rubber band" effect. Demand disproportionate "equality" and opportunity coming in, get a disproportionate kick in the pants going out.

rhhardin said...

No sense of humor is the usual reason.

rhhardin said...

For example, Merissa Meyers came on Armstrong and Getty when she worked for Google, to promote some useless Google search feature, and A&G reported to her no results for "Merissa Meyers nude"

There followed a scolding email from Meyers' office.

You can't make it up.

rhhardin said...

Women in management.

Rules governing the free coffee for Kroger employees in the in-store Starbucks.

Fernandinande said...

According to this, women and other "occupational minorities," such as people with a different skin color, tend to get appointed to top jobs when a company needs government contracts.

They replace the women with white men people who have lots of industry experience.

Why is html "strike" not allowed?

Fernandinande said...

Because...
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION REQUIREMENTS
"Each Government contractor with 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in government contracts is required to develop a written affirmative action program (AAP) for each of its establishments.

A written affirmative action program helps the contractor identify and analyze potential problems in the participation and utilization of women and minorities in the contractor's workforce."

Tarrou said...

Well, if we haven't been lied to about how few female CEOs there are, then wouldn't the sample size be too small to calculate comparative statistics with any degree of confidence?

Pogo is Only Mostly Dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Pawlak said...

If, and only if, a woman is smart enough to hold such a job, she should be smart enough to not accept such a suicidal job.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's just the "rubber band" effect."

That reminds me. How's Edie Brickell doing?

MadisonMan said...

What's wrong with the theory that the women don't oversee as well as men?

The higher rate of firing of female CEOs would support that theory.

betamax3000 said...

From "Margaret Crashes the Glass Ceiling:"

Sweetie, you have always been so good at making my coffee just how I like it -- the teaspoon of sugar absolutely needs to be leveled, not heaped, I've had to fire so many assistants who just could not get that right. And I never had to remind you that my dry-cleaning was ready, you always had it there behind my desk in the plastic baggies, right beside my shined shoes. And lunch: I never even had to think about lunch, you always knew what I would want and it would be there, no words exchanged, water with two lemons, not one. Couple all of that with knowing just who to tell on the phone that I was not in the office, well: I think you're ready for the big leagues, baby. It is your time to shine. Just keep in mind you'll need to dress better, you -- no offense -- look like a secretary.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Affirmative Action meets the real world.

RecChief said...

Maybe the first quality to look for isn't gender. Maybe, in a rush to hire a specific gender, hiring committees haven't focused on the traits that would make a good leader. Maybe crying "glass cliff" when you're fired, instead of owning up to your shortcomings leads to a perception of a certain gender. Maybe always looking for an external reason for your failure (this happens to both genders), instead of introspection, leads people to fail.

Expat(ish) said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKbADFJOCkU

Howard said...

The sample size is too small to compare the least squares eigenvectors between male and hysterical CEO's.

Michael K said...

CEOs are not like politicians. They have to produce results. Affirmative action isn;t the last word.

"Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything! You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*."

Scott M said...

Comparing the two numbers, which undoubtedly involves comparing truckloads of apples to truckloads of oranges, seems to imply that there is some number that would be acceptable.

Is within five okay? Three? Is it okay if more men are being fired? If the numbers were within one or two digits of each other, would we then be quibbling over decimal points?

My point being, it's wholly unrealistic to think the number will ever reach exact parity. The world's simply not that neatly strung together.

Darrell said...

Nonperformance.
It could have happened to anyone sitting in that chair, but they were there at the time and the axe has to fall somewhere. Too bad. The history books are filled with men that met the same fate. W. Edwards Deming wowed the Japanese with his straightforward demonstrations. One of these was putting some red or black marbles into a jar of all-white ones. Then he had ten volunteers come up and pick blindfolded. The one or ones that got all white got a promotion and raise. The ones getting the colored ball got a pay cut the first time they chose one, and fired the next. The point of the demo was to show the randomness of it all--it was not an worker's fault if he assembled a radio, say, with defective parts, just as it wasn't to a worker's credit if he used good part. The only way to help level the field was to check all parts first and make sure they were good. You eliminate the possible errors that you can eliminate.

Whatever problems occurred under the female CEO may not have been her fault. Tough luck. But she got one chance and she will probably get another.

chrisnavin.com said...

Now we see the violence inherent in the system.

Scott M said...

Why is html "strike" not allowed?

Because microaggression.

Paul said...

Men make better leaders. No surprise there, after all there are millions of years of biological conditioning for the feminists and cultural Marxist loons to overcome.

Unknown said...

Are women just as good as men as leading businesses? It's hard to tell from hirings and firings, because those decisions are made by other people. Perhaps a fairer way to compare management ability is how the two sexes fare at starting new businesses successfully. My impression is that men still out-do women in this respect, and by a big margin.
David in Cal

The Crack Emcee said...

"They have to prove their worth in situations that powerful men suspect may be hopeless."

Because they can't pick a black guy. A woman, a mullatto, a foreigner - but not the black guy.

And, I must point out, you don't hear/see this type of thinking in black circles. "Situations that,...may be hopeless" are what we're used to. No need to "bring in a woman" but to bring in whoever can fix the problem.

This "plantation" style is NOT part of our world,...

Doug said...

1994: Why aren't women getting more top jobs?
2014: Why are women getting the more difficult top jobs?

fivewheels said...

I've had cause to quote this a couple of times lately. Futurama nailed it:

Lrrr: "Surely you know McNeal. She is an unmarried human female struggling to succeed in a human male's world."

Captain Zapp Brannigan: "Maybe that's just her excuse for being incompetent."

Bob Loblaw said...

I'm sure the women can see the hopelessness of a failing company, too. They may say "Well, I'll give it a shot, but if it doesn't work out, at least I've got CEO on my resume, and it will be obvious that the company was likely to fail anyways." If they don't take it, they may not ever get a crack at the top spot.

Bob Loblaw said...

The average tenure of a CEO at a Fortune 500 company is 4.6 years.

So whether it's a man or a woman, they're not going to last too long anyways.

madAsHell said...

My wife has a female friend that considers herself a turn-around expert. She has the Stanford MBA to prove it. When she is fired, she turns-around, and sues for sex discrimination.

She's a repeat offender. I can't believe anyone would hire someone with such a history.

jr565 said...

When I was a kid and I had friends over my mom would make us juice. And I was so into fairness I'd throw a fit if someone got a tiny bit more than someone else. And I'd then go in and pour juice from one cup to another until everyone got the same.
I could be excused for this infantilism because I was a little kid. What's the lefts excuse?
Now, there has to be parity between the number of CEO's fired, and otherwise there is a glass cliff? Yet another stat denoting some expectation that could never be met in a real wolves.
Ceo's get fired if their performance isn't up to par, or if the company does badly. How could you POSSIBLY expect that such firings would ever be equal across the board in comparison to men being fired. Since said firings are all based on companies circumstances. And so if you are the CEO of Apple, you're not going to get fired. If you're the CEO of a beleaguered company that isn't Apple, you might get fired. It's not based on the sex of the CEO but the circumstance of the company. Trying to base some statistical argument that proves sexism on the fact that more women ceo's get fired then men is ridiculous.
How many of them were left handed? Or had brown hair? Those stats are similarly meaningless.

Michael said...

Tenure in office may also be a factor. It would be interesting to know the relative termination rate for men and woman CEO's who have been on the job less than 10 years.

Richard Dolan said...

"The 'glass cliff' theory ..."

Another wonderful narrative that distorts more than it enlightens, particularly in this context.

Tarrou said...

@ The Crack Emcee

I guess we'll see how Kevin Orr does with Detroit, eh?

If we found the same sort of pattern with black CEOs, wouldn't some people say that racist white boards were trying to pin the blame for failure on blacks?

Marshal said...

Over the past 10 years, 38 percent of female chief executives of the world's 2,500 biggest public companies were fired, compared to 27 percent of their male counterparts.

So to summarize those popularizing the study propose that female CEO's are victims based on a 11 percent difference. And while the study evaluates the incoming circumstances they omit the ending which would provide at least some judge of whether the metric the study uses is directly related to results and not gender.

There's almost nothing to this study. It reports a minor correlation but doesn't determine why it exists. Yet somehow the press reports just assume it does. Since this occurs time after time you have to suspect the academics are designing the studies to create media talking points rather then understand what's really going on.

Henry said...

Women are treated as exotic outsiders, brought to the helm when board members are feeling adventurous (mainly out of necessity). They have to prove their worth in situations that powerful men suspect may be hopeless.

Sounds like the John McCain presidential campaign.

Strelnikov said...

Deeply paranoid analysis.

I'm assuming the author's agenda is to put any firing of a female CEO under suspicion. This would result, ultimately, in reduced hiring from that pool.

So, we're good all around.

Strelnikov said...

"That reminds me. How's Edie Brickell doing?"

She can't be fired from her "executive position".

Her position is similar to the one held by V. Stiviano.

jr565 said...

Crack Emcee wrote:
"Because they can't pick a black guy. A woman, a mullatto, a foreigner - but not the black guy."
They have to pick somebody. If they are hiring women and mulattos and foreigners, it kind of suggests that they are not lilly white.
But who says they aren't also picking black males anyway? There are plenty of black CEO's.
Here's a list of black CEO's:
http://www.blackentrepreneurprofile.com/fortune-500-ceos/

(Note, on that same page you can see the list of black billionaires)

Strelnikov said...

When you fall off the glass cliff, do you strike and fall through a glass floor? Sounds painful.

Maybe feminist philosophers should devote some time to examining the actual makeup of reality.

jr565 said...

chrisnavim.com wrote:
"Now we see the violence inherent in the system."


Help help! I"m being repressed!

jr565 said...

"Women are treated as exotic outsiders, brought to the helm when board members are feeling adventurous (mainly out of necessity). They have to prove their worth in situations that powerful men suspect may be hopeless."
If they are the exotic outsider they are still put at the helm to run the company. Maybe the board members have confidence that they can do the job. And yes they have to prove their worth in situations. But, they were hired right?

Scott M said...

Maybe feminist philosophers should devote some time to examining the actual makeup of reality.

They'll find that the silicon in all that glass is the 8th most common element in the universe. Maybe then they'll shut up and make me a sandwich.

n.n said...

Ah, the War on Women. Women should only be hired to positions of authority and responsibility in peaceful conditions. They are too fragile and wholly unsuitable to serve in a war, and certainly not in combat. Apparently, the "burden" is too great.

Where women were once pioneers, today they are domesticated servants, dependent and barren. Progress.

jr565 said...

"To be exact: Over the past 10 years, 38 percent of female chief executives of the world's 2,500 biggest public companies were fired, compared to 27 percent of their male counterparts.

This is not evidence of male superiority on the job, but of the so-called glass cliff theory. According to this, women and other "occupational minorities," such as people with a different skin color, tend to get appointed to top jobs when a company needs saving. When these women fail -- and in a crisis, the probability of failure is higher -- boardrooms fall back on tradition. They replace the women with white men who have lots of industry experience."


Why 2500 of the biggest companies? Why not 3000 of the biggest companies? And why the biggest companies and not some mid sized companies? This is a classic example of people plugging in the exact stats they want to get the result they want to prove their theory.


"Glass cliff" hires are prominent among the 23 female chief executives who run Fortune 500 companies: They were appointed to effect breakthroughs and turnarounds."

That's why any company brings in ANY CEO. That's the whole point of bringing in the new CEO of an existing company. Think of someone like Lee Iacoca. He was brought in to effect breakthroughs and turnarounds. Why is this something special when women are brought in to do the exact same thing. That's why you pay the CEO the big bucks. That's why you get rid of one CEO and bring in another.
The fact that so many women were brought in as CEO"s to fix ailing companies is not chauvanism. The expectation is that they will fix an ailing company. If they don't in fact fix the ailing company that may just point to their ineffectiveness as leaders. OR they may be on a ship that will sink no matter what. Each case is different.

jr565 said...

Equal opportunity will not guarantee an equal number of women CEO's being hired. And even more importantly it wont guarantee an equal number of women CEO"s being fired.
Now the number of fired CEO's must match the number of males fired or there is something amiss?
If you really believe that then you are not living in the real world and your expectations are WAY out of line with reality.

jr565 said...

The knicks had a horrible year. They just fired their head coach who happens to be black.
Lets have some stats on the number of black coaches being fired versus white coaches being fired and see if we can prove some disparity. Maybe he was hired as a glass cliff type coach because everyone knew the Knicks were going to suck and he was the exotic coach that they bring in when they thin the situation is hopeless.
So what racial lessons are we to learn based on this about black coaches in the NBA? What parity are we supposed to achieve here?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Maybe a disproportionate number of the women being brought in were not of a high enough caliber, but they were brought in partially because they were women. And thus had a higher failure rate - similar to minorities who are brought into the top level of universities, when their grades/test scores didn't warrant it.

ken in sc said...

"Nonperformance.
It could have happened to anyone sitting in that chair, but they were there at the time and the axe has to fall somewhere. Too bad. The history books are filled with men that met the same fate. W. Edwards Deming wowed the Japanese with his straightforward demonstrations. One of these was putting some red or black marbles into a jar of all-white ones. Then he had ten volunteers come up and pick blindfolded. The one or ones that got all white got a promotion and raise. The ones getting the colored ball got a pay cut the first time they chose one, and fired the next. The point of the demo was to show the randomness of it all--it was not an worker's fault if he assembled a radio, say, with defective parts, just as it wasn't to a worker's credit if he used good part. The only way to help level the field was to check all parts first and make sure they were good. You eliminate the possible errors that you can eliminate. "

I did not know that Deming did this. However, I saw Newt Gingrich do this with his class at Kennesaw State, on cable. Gingrich's point was that it is unreasonable to hold anyone responsible for outputs when they can not control the inputs.

campy said...

"She's a repeat offender. I can't believe anyone would hire someone with such a history."

They can refuse to hire her, in which case she sues, or they can hire her and hope she gets run over by a bus on the way to work.

richard mcenroe said...

Mebbe wimmen just can't do s***...

richard mcenroe said...

Because...
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION REQUIREMENTS
"Each Government contractor with 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in government contracts is required to develop a written affirmative action program (AAP) for each of its establishments.

A written affirmative action program helps the contractor identify and analyze potential problems in the participation and utilization of women and minorities in the contractor's workforce."

State Department actually tried to implement that in its aid grants in Iraqa...

Kristian Holvoet said...

Let's be charitable. A lot of the women getting fired are first or second time CEOs. It sometime takes five or six failures before the Experienced Male CEO stops getting hired.

Whipper Snapper to Rich Businessman: How'd you get so successful.
RB: Good judgement.
WS: How'd you get good judgment? RB: Experience.
WS: How'd you get experience?
RB: Bad judgment)

First/Second time women CEO are still in the bad judgement / experience part of the success curve. Gie ti time.

We should be more concerned when the rate of women's hiring into the senior executive slots drops.

Unknown said...

"She's a repeat offender. I can't believe anyone would hire someone with such a history."

They should hire her and put her in a corner office on the 20th floor with a sticky window and a sign that says, "do not open."

wildswan said...

My theory is that women CEO's don't have an "old boy network"; they are isolated by being unusual. There are lots of unusual situations they have to manage but they can't call up friends from the past who might have had a similar experience and sort of feel around and find out what their friends have done in a similar situation. That is what men do but women who rise are too unusual to have that kind of a group in their past. And so in a corporate situation they actually do underperform after a while.

I don't think the problem is that women made it by being so bitchy that they can't ask questions any more. (I think some other commenters have that idea and I guess that happens.) But more often the problem is that women made it to the top by working extra hard but that isn't enough at the corporate top. You need wide-area connections going back years and that just isn't always possible for women - yet. Unless they're secretaries.

n.n said...

Kristian Holvoet:

If the problem can be overcome with experience, then its cause can be traced to inadequate education. Established companies should avoiding hiring MBAs, and consider hiring business owners and developers who have proved their mettle in the market.

Aren't aspiring MBAs required to pay their dues before being accepted to senior positions?

As for the "glass cliff" theory, perhaps the problem is due to a lack of due diligence, unmitigated ambition, inadequate education, or insufficient experience. I wonder if this is encouraged with an accelerated promotion path.

Nichevo said...

Is it "glass" because women are brittle, fragile and transparent?

Nichevo said...

n.n., like Lt. Kara Hulgreen?