Accessing soft skills to overcome stereotypes
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), celebrated women in 2019 and their place in the maritime industry. Moving on to 2020 we are still sceptical in regards to the position and the opportunities given to women in the maritime and in the business world overall.
The story goes something like this: a capable, experienced woman is given the opportunity to “shine”. She is the leading woman of General Motors who has been promoted after a century of male leadership, specifically at a time when the company was facing tremendous crisis. Mary Barra was promoted when the major issue of faulty ignition switches in over a million cars, were putting customers at risk.
A similar scenario took place in Silicon Valley. Yahoo was on the verge of disappearing from the world wide web world, and it was exactly then that Marissa Mayer was given the position of chief executive, in 2012.
A survey by The Times concluded that having women as CEO’s brought poor results both in share prices and company growth and development. The back story of this “pattern” was later on revealed. A research by Michelle Ryan and Alexander Haslam showed that female CEOs were given the positions at a time when the organisations were already in crisis and downfall was more likely to be the direction they were headed to.
Women were not to be blamed for the fall. The fall was blaming the women. They are not given many leadership position opportunities and when they do get the chance, they grab it and they have to struggle for success. Unfortunately, the prediction in such cases and given the circumstances is that most likely they will fail.
Known as the “glass cliff” phenomenon, a term coined by Alexander Haslam back in 2004 which made it in the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year shortlist in 2016, it refers to a situation in which a woman or a member of a minority group is promoted to a leadership position, in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high. Women are most likely to get the big break to conquer a top management position, when the situation is doomed.
So, it’s not only about the participation of women in top management positions. It’s about the quality of the options they are offered to prove themselves, to conquer the glass cliff and not to fall from it.
Although both men and women are capable and although they share the same soft skills, men are perceived more likely as leaders and women as nurturers. Men are the visionary, whereas women lack in vision and they are perceived as performing better in times of crisis. A stereotype feeding itself and we need to move away from it.
A solid solution is needed with an objective and bias free outcome. Base the hiring decision on substantial information with actionable results. Objective psychometric assessments provide fair answers to make fair decisions and set the record straight when it comes to both men and women in leading positions, and not only for that. The unbiased process of assessing soft skills, can significantly help the evaluation of your hiring decision.
This means to conquering the “glass cliff” lie in adequate and accurate soft skills assessments. Therefore, it’s time we put action to our words and begin walking the walk, instead of only talking the talk.