As if figuring out how to shatter the well-known glass ceiling wasn’t enough, professional women are faced with navigating yet another stumbling block to career advancement: the glass cliff. This phenomenon describes situations in which women are appointed to executive roles in a corporation during times of struggling business performance. High-performing women are elevated to these roles despite the chance of failure being the highest, often leading to them being held personally responsible if they can’t save already poor-performing companies. In other words, women are being set up to fail.
So why do women even take on these precarious positions in the first place? While a male executive in a similar position may feel it’s easy to walk away from a risky promotion, many women don’t have the same luxury. Thanks to continued female underrepresentation in the workplace, women could see any chance at a leadership role as being worth the risk. For those women considering an uncertain executive-level promotion, it pays to be prepared.
By analyzing industry trends to get a good idea of potential risk, building a strong cross-departmental network of support to fall back on, and bringing up any concerns about the role with a company’s HR department, female professionals can succeed in precarious roles and avoid the perplexing paradox of the glass cliff.
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