Tags: women | CEO | glass | cliff

Study: Watch Out for the 'Glass Cliff' as Women CEOs More Likely to Get Fired

By    |   Monday, 05 May 2014 12:58 PM

Women are all too familiar with the glass ceiling, but female chief executive officers face another issue: the glass cliff.

Women CEOs are more likely to get fired than male CEOs, reveals the 14th annual Chief Executive Study from Strategy&, the strategic consulting division of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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Over the past decade, 38 percent of female CEOs who left their posts were sent packing, compared with 27 percent of male CEOs who were fired, the Washington Post notes.

Gary Neilson, the study's co-author, attributes some of the problem to where female CEOs come from.

“We don't think it's so much that they're put into challenging roles than that they're more often outsiders,” he explained to the Post.

Entering a firm as CEO “is a tougher job” than being groomed in-house, Neilson explained. CEOs who were outsiders “don't have as many connections in the company to understand how things work, and their performance is not as high,” he said.

Why do companies tend to select female executives from the outside? Are they setting women up to fail?

“Maybe this is the chicken-or-the-egg thing,” Neilson tells the Post, “but more women CEOs are outsiders because companies can't find them inside their own companies, or they may find them but they're not ready. So they go pick them off another company.”

While that's one theory, Forbes.com contributor Dina Medland offers another. She suggests when companies hire female CEOs they are simply responding to pressure to add more women to the C-suite.

Women are unfamiliar faces in the CEO game but their appointment is being pushed hard by governments, what competitor businesses are doing and public opinion, Medland writes.

But no one really buys that they are going to be as good as a male appointment. Which explains the volatility of their tenure, she adds.

Pointing to a 1.3 percent drop in the number of female CEO appointments last year, Medland suggests that the lack of real confidence in female leadership skills could be leading to women being "put off" by the idea of taking on these positions.

But despite the current challenges, the study's authors cite a positive outlook for the future of female corporate leadership.

Although women CEOs are still quite rare, representing only 3 percent of the incoming class of CEOs in 2013, by 2040, one-third of incoming CEOs will be women, the study projects.

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Women are all too familiar with the glass ceiling, but female chief executive officers face another issue: the glass cliff.
women, CEO, glass, cliff
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2014-58-05
Monday, 05 May 2014 12:58 PM
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