Risking the glass cliff – is the new Twitter CEO set up for failure?
We’re familiar with the “glass ceiling,” which makes it harder for women to break into more advanced positions in the workplace.
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We’re familiar with the “glass ceiling,” which makes it harder for women to break into more advanced positions in the workplace. But have you ever heard of its cousin, the “glass cliff?”
The glass cliff is a phenomenon where a woman is assigned a position of power in an organization just as it looks like things are taking a turn for the worse. Essentially, this is when a woman (or a someone within a minority group) is put at the top just as everything is about to fall apart, meaning that person has a big chance of falling right off that cliff.
“When an organization is in crisis, women are often seen as being able to come in and take care of a problem,” explains Anna Beninger, senior director of research and corporate engagement partner at Catalyst, a nonprofit for promoting women in business. “They’re effectively handed the mess to clean up.”
So people are questioning: Is that what’s happening with Twitter’s new CEO?
After Elon Musk took over the company last year, he’s been making a lot of changes to the platform and how it’s run. Twitter has gone through mass layoffs, a transformation of the Twitter Blue subscription service, back-and-forth on verification and platform glitchiness. Musk has also renamed the parent company of Twitter “X” and plans to revamp the platform to make it more multi-use. But, he’s been struggling to make a return on the US$44 billion investment he shelled out when he bought it in the first place.
Last Thursday, Musk announced that he’d be stepping down as CEO, which he had been saying he’d do as soon as he found a suitable replacement. On Friday, he revealed who would be taking over – Linda Yaccarino, who used to run advertising at NBCUniversal. "Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app," Musk tweeted.
Some are saying that Yaccarino’s career history makes her the perfect person to boost back trust between the platform and advertisers, which started distancing themselves from Twitter after Musk’s takeover. But, while we love to see more women represented in major leadership positions, there are whispers floating around that risking facing the glass cliff.
“This is a classic glass cliff situation, in which a failing company hires a woman to clean up messes made by arrogant men,” tweeted notable digital media advisor Heidi N. Moore. “Then she becomes the scapegoat because it’s impossible to clean up.”
We’ll have to keep tabs on the situation to see how much Musk really plans to “step down” seeing as he will still be involved in product design and tech development. So, he may still be pretty hands-on in a big way, which could make it harder for Yaccarino to turn the ship around.
“She should get out quick” if Musk remains dominant, said Jennifer Chatman, professor of management at the Haas School of Business, to Axios.