Infographic: What is the Glass Cliff
The glass cliff is a phenomenon in business that sees women disproportionately given opportunities to lead in times of company strife, when risk of failure is greatest.
Like the glass ceiling, the glass cliff is a challenge that high-achieving women in business face as they try to climb the corporate ladder. As they shatter the proverbial glass ceiling, they risk falling off the glass cliff.
Well documented in research, the glass cliff has some startling statistics.It was first uncovered by psychologists after a blistering article in the U.K. Times argued that companies on the London Stock Exchange would be better off not having women on their boards. After taking a deeper look into the research, the psychologists discovered that women weren’t causing companies to be performing poorly, they were just only given a chance to be on the board of companies that were performing poorly.
Unfortunately, the numbers haven’t gotten better since this initial research in 2004. In fact, the number of women who lead Fortune 500 companies has actually declined and now sits at just 4.8 percent! In addition, women who do lead are 45% more likely to be ousted than their male counterparts and 15x more likely to be challenged by male investors.
Women continue to make huge strides in business, from securing business loans to getting more graduate degrees than men, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Knowledge is power so keeping yourself informed is the best way to avoid becoming another statistic about gender inequality in the workplace. Here are some steps you can take to avoid falling off the glass cliff:
- Define Success Before You Accept: This step is really important. You need to know what your expectations are before you accept a big promotion. Get these expectations in writing so you can’t be fired on a whim.
- Include Risk in Your Salary Negotiations: Once you see the expectations set for you, evaluate the risk factor and then negotiate the risk into your salary. You’ll be thanking yourself later if you do fall off the glass cliff, with some extra money to cushion the blow as you jump on the unemployment line.
- Believe in Yourself: Command the room by being a fast decision maker. One study showed that decisiveness makes you 12x more likely to be considered a high-performing executive. Make a decision – a poor decision can be turned around but inaction will have your board lose faith in your leadership abilities.
Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more