Companies in Crisis: The (Biased) Blame Game

By: Laura Day DelCotto, Esq.

A recent WSJ headline caught my eye:  “Female CEOs Get Blamed More Than Male Counterparts” ( Nov. 2, 2016).   According to a recent study published by the Rockefeller Foundation in conjunction with research firm Global Strategy Group, approximately 80% of all print and digital media stories about companies in crisis cited the female CEO as a source of blame, compared to 31% of stories assigning blame to male CEOs.  You have GOT to be kidding me!

Every company in crisis is there for a number of reasons, usually some external (i.e., outside the company’s control) as well as some internal.  In this VUCA world we live in, human beings of both genders have to react on a dime with whatever information they have available to them at that moment in time.   When revenues are volatile and unpredictable, along with market values moving at huge levels, it is exceedingly difficult today to be a “company in crisis” and to react quickly enough.  For media to “blame” female CEOs at more than double the rate of male CEOs is totally outside any reasoned rationale that I have ever witnessed in my 30+ years of dealing with “companies in crisis.”   This needs to stop.

And yes, the article also pointed out, correctly, that media articles about women in leadership mention her “family and children”  over 78% of the time, while only 8% of stories on male leaders even discuss their personal life at all, and none — none! — mentioned their “family and children.” Obviously, we need more women in media leadership to get this balanced out so that men can have families and children too.    Shout out to the male reporter of this news, John Simons.

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