How Liz Truss's brief and chaotic tenure as Britain's PM unravelled

headshot of liz truss
Monday 31 October 2022

A 'glass cliff' or a 'death cult'? 

In the business world, they call it "the glass cliff". 

The cruel and elusive cousin of the metaphorical "glass ceiling", which traps women from reaching their full potential, the glass cliff allows them to get there - and then promptly hurtles them into the abyss below. 

The term was coined by Australian researcher Michelle Ryan and British academic Alexander Haslam, who set out to investigate a 2003 claim by the UK Times that female CEOs "wreaked havoc on companies' performance and share prices". 

They found that the women weren't really the problem at all. 

Instead, it became clear that ailing companies are more likely to appoint a woman or person of colour to lead them out of crisis. 

Subsequent studies have found a similar phenomenon plays out in sporting groups and politics. 

Whether the organisation is trying to signal that they're embracing change, or simply can't find a member of the old boy's network willing to take the risk, a woman takes the helm. 

A woman or person of colour, who may sense this is their only chance to lead, takes the gamble. 


Updated:  31 October 2022/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications