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女CEO比男CEO更容易被解雇,即便公司发展势头良好

Kristen Bellstrom 2018年12月06日

研究人员指出,女性CEO被解雇的可能性比男CEO高45%。

我们在《财富》的一项工作就是管理500强排行榜,而对于《财富》Broadsheet团队,他们的工作又包括了特别关注《财富》500强上榜企业的女性CEO。

根据今年5月公布的《财富》500强企业榜单,目前执掌这些大公司的女性有26人。对我们来说,看着这个数字每年小幅攀升或是下降真是一件让人紧张的事。

所以,你可以想象,当看到一项新近研究被冠以学术界少有的耸动标题“你被炒鱿鱼了!解雇CEO存在性别差异”时,无疑引发了我的兴趣。研究者提出的问题也是我多年来一直问自己的问题。从500强企业的女性CEO名单中删除一些名字时,我就在想:女性是不是比男性更有可能失去CEO的职位?

在可能解答这个问题以前,研究团队成员——密西西比大学副教授威绍·格普塔、阿拉巴马大学副教授桑德拉·莫塔尔、孟菲斯大学助理教授萨巴提努·塞尔拜里、克莱姆森大学教授孙民行(音译)和密苏里大学教授丹尼尔·特班必须先解决一个我们所熟知的问题,即很少有CEO承认自己被公司解雇,也很少有公司承认主动解雇CEO。研究人员选择了依据公开报道来判断哪些CEO是被解雇的。一些报道会披露某位CEO被解雇或被迫离开,或者因为政策变化或是压力而自愿离职。研究报告的作者写道:“然后我们再进一步分析,如果离职的CEO年龄在60岁以下,而且媒体并没有报道其离职是因为去世、健康状况不佳,或是另谋高就,或者虽然指出其将会离职,但未提前至少六个月宣布,那么这些CEO的离职就将归入被解雇之列。”

基于以上判断,研究人员最终得出结论:女性CEO的确更有可能被解雇。实际上,她们被解雇的可能性比男CEO高45%。更有趣的是,假如经营的公司业绩不佳,女性CEO被解雇的几率却和男性相差无几。只有在公司业绩良好的时,二者的差异才会凸显出来。

那么,到底是什么原因造成这种情形?研究者无法确定,不过他们给出了一些耐人寻味的假设成因。他们认为,当一家公司境况不佳时,决定解雇CEO的理由往往显而易见,而一旦公司经营良好,CEO的领导能力如何就很难明确判断,董事会没有清晰的评价可循。在这种情况下,董事们更有可能依从那些刻板的两性能力评价做出判断,认定女性CEO不具备让公司持续取得佳绩的“领导素质”。

我承认,这并不是一个好消息。但理解这类形势变化非常重要。毕竟,在我们的职业生涯中,上司会对我们做出很多理由“含糊”的决定。像这样的研究让我们有了心理准备,或许能影响那些决策时刻。最重要的是,领导者对女性的偏见有可能断送企业未来、毁掉员工的职业生涯,而这样的研究能引起他们对此的关注。(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

One of our jobs here at Fortune is to act as the keepers of the Fortune 500—and for the Broadsheet team, that includes a special focus on the all-too-exclusive club of female Fortune 500 CEOs.

The list of women running these massive companies currently stands at 26, and it’s a bit of a nail-biting experience to watch as it climbs by a few digits each year—or even falls, as it did when we released the 2018 Fortune 500 list in May (it was then 24, down from 32 a year earlier).

So, you can imagine that my interest was piqued by a new research study with the atypically-kicky-for-academia title, “You’re Fired! Gender Disparities in CEO Dismissal.” The question posed by the study’s authors is one I’ve asked myself over the years as we’ve scratched names off our roster of female chiefs: Are women more likely to be ousted from CEO jobs than their male counterparts?

Before the research team—Vishal Gupta of the University of Mississippi, Sandra Mortal of the University of Alabama, Sabatino Silveri of the University of Memphis, Minxing Sun of Clemson University, and Daniel Turban of the University of Missouri—could tackle that question, though, they had to solve a problem that those of us who cover this stuff are all too familiar with—very few CEOs admit to being “fired” and very few companies admit to firing them. To determine which executives were dismissed, the researchers relied on press reports that he or she had been fired or forced out, or resigned due to policy differences or pressure. “Further,” write the authors, “exits for CEOs below the age of 60 are classified as dismissal if either the press does not report the reason as death, poor health, acceptance of another position, or the press notes that the CEO is retiring, but does not announce the retirement at least six months in advance.”

With all that established, the researchers finally reached a conclusion: Yes, female CEOs are more likely to get the boot. In fact, they’re 45% more likely to be dismissed than their male counterparts. Interestingly, though, there’s not much of a difference (“statistically insignificant”) when the company is doing poorly. The gap only kicks in when you look at companies that are performing well.

So, what’s going on? The researchers can’t say for certain, but their hypothesis resonates. They suggest that when a company is performing badly, the decision to fire the CEO is often clear cut. But when it’s doing well, there is “considerable ambiguity about the CEO’s leadership of the firm and no clear script for the board to follow.” In that situation, board members are more likely to fall back on the gender stereotypes and decide that the female CEO doesn’t have the “leadership qualities” needed to continue the company’s winning run.

Okay, I admit—this isn’t the cheeriest news to launch you into your weekend. But it is vitally important to understand these types of dynamics. After all, how many “ambiguous” decisions do our bosses make about us throughout the course of our careers? Research like this sets us up to anticipate and perhaps influence those moments and—most importantly, brings them to the attention of those whose bias has the power to wreck companies and careers.

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