Valuing diversity is important to an organization’s success. It can also be used as a scapegoat by a disparaged employee looking to place blame and cause issues for the company when they are overlooked for a promotion or let go. It appears this is what happened with the New York Times firing of female Executive Editor Jill Abramson. Her ousting has ignited controversy over what led to the decision to fire her.
Some reports have indicated that Abramson was fired because she openly complained about making less money than her male predecessor and wanting to be paid the same. Though The New York Times has denied any pay disparity and publicly commented the issue played no role in the firing.
Pay disparity for women executives is still an issue in today’s workforce – and one that should be addressed – though it seems that is not the real reason Abramson was ousted.
It was her poor management style that lead to her downfall. She had piss poor management skills. Her peers, direct reports, and others she worked with at the New York Times described her as “pushy” “a non inclusive manager” “rude” “undermining” and “bossy.”
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger issued a statement saying that he fired Abramson after she proved “…unable to improve upon problems with her management style, which had been the subject of complaints by her colleagues. During her tenure, I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues. I discussed these issues with Jill herself several times and warned her that, unless they were addressed, she risked losing the trust of both masthead and newsroom.”
She wasn’t fired because she was a woman – not even because she was a woman who complained she didn’t earn as much as her male counterparts – even though it has been reported she earned even more.
Though – she decided to play the “gender card.” She hired a lawyer to complain that her salary was not equal to that of her predecessor – because she was a woman. Her boss felt this was the final straw – her attempt to raise the salary issue at a time when leadership and peers were already upset and on edge was felt inappropriate on both on its “merits and in terms of her approach.”
So, she was ousted. It had nothing to do with gender equality or diversity. Jill needed to improve her management style and focus on being a better leader.
As Abramson told a group of graduating seniors at a commencement address at Wake Forest University, “What’s next for me? I don’t know … I’m in exactly the same boat as many of you.” Well, maybe a good place for her start of her journey to what’s next is to take some leadership development courses and hire a good executive coach - and not scapegoat diversity and being a woman as the reason she was let go. She could benefit from evaluating her own behaviors, looking at the way they impact those she leads, and perhaps make herself a more people focused leader.
About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.
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