With the advent of a systematic culture in the corporate world, employers are cornered with the demands of bringing in diversity at all ranks, especially at the top positions of an organisation.
Companies are revamping their organogram by introducing top roles for women as well as minority groups. However, most employers overlook the landslide of failure as they unintentionally push women off the 'glass cliff'.
The glass cliff is a phenomenon backed by research that states that women are appointed to top leadership positions when the risk of business failure is high.
The glass cliff phenomenon is relatively different from the 'glass ceiling' when women phase through or break the boundary hindering their success to achieve top-ranked positions. The glass cliff means when a business's performance is in crisis, and women tend to be elevated to higher and precarious positions, meaning there is a greater risk for them to fail and more fingers to be pointed at them.
When organisations look for a pacemaker and a sentinel to save the sinking ship, women are put at higher roles than typical men. However, in the hope of orchestrating a change, things might worsen.
Women or people of colour who have visioned to be at top leadership positions might be stepping into a maze of failure; consequently, they will become sacked targets. That is when they slip off the glass cliff.
Glass cliff examples are visible today, and you do not have to look far for them. For example, when Carol Bartz, a person who ran Auto Desk for 14 years, was made the CEO of Yahoo, was pushed off the cliff after two years.
Moreover, uncovered cases of sexual harassment, racial oppression, and nepotism have created their climate of crisis; and the women and nimority people become the ones trapped underneath.
In an alternate view, women who respond to this signal are more willing to embrace the risks. When the board declared the decision in times of crisis, women have shown resilience and remarkable personality traits to tame the tides.
"Women feel a great sense of purpose and a great level of commitment to the communities they are involved in perhaps in a different way than they think about their own career prospect" (Bruckmüller & Branscombe, 2011).
As a result, this proves that women have broken the leash they were fixated with and marked their success trajectory.
Glass cliff corresponds to a blend of gender bias and stereotypical oppression. This phenomenon has clouded our judgment that society is riddled with the history of female leaders failing when they are in the call of duty.
However, we must understand that if women are allowed to wave the red cape at a charging bull in times of crisis, only then will the world experience a turnaround. It does not determine how a woman takes charge primarily during an emergency but the bird's eye view, which they see once they have climbed to the glass cliff's summit.
Syed Nabil Ahsan is an undergraduate student at North South University.