Navigating the Glass Cliff Paradox

by | Jun 27, 2019

How to survive the glass cliff paradox


The glass cliff paradox is yet another obstacle that women have to face in the workplace. But fear not, it is possible to navigate it and succeed.


Women in the workplace face the challenges of pay inequality, gender discrimination, and sexual harrassment. But beyond that there are even more forces at play that make success at work difficult for professional women achieve. In addition to the glass ceiling, perhaps the most commonly known career advancement barrier for women, there’s the phenomenon of the glass cliff. It is a tricky paradox lying in wait to take success away from even the most highly-performing women.

The glass cliff describes situations in which women are appointed to executive roles in a company during times of suffering business performance. Capable women are promoted to these positions even though the likelihood of failure is the highest. This often leads to them being held personally responsible if (and most often, when) they can’t save already struggling companies. In other words, women executives are being set up to fail.

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So, how to approach the glass cliff without falling off its steep edge? Successfully advancing, despite the threat of the glass cliff, must start by thoughtfully observing industry trends. It is important to get a feel for where the company could be headed. This involves factoring the level of risk into salary negotiations, to ensure compensation is appropriate, and even mentioning any concerns about the role prior to accepting with a company’s HR department.

In all, with a bit of preparation and research, female professionals can succeed in precarious roles. It is possible to tackle the delicate paradox of the glass cliff. And we've got some tips on how to achieve success in the face of the glass cliff. For actionable tips on how to navigate the glass cliff paradox, see the infographic from Fundera below.

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Meredith Wood Contributor
Meredith 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.

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