What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander?
| Case Code: BECG150
Case Length: 9 Pages
Period: 2013 - 2015
Pub Date: 2017
Teaching Note: Available
| Price: Rs.300
Organization: The New York Times
Industry: Media, Newspaper
Themes: Business Ethics, Organizational Behavior
Abstract Case Intro
This case explores the issues of gender in the workplace, and the deep structures of power that marginalize, oppress, and silence individuals and groups. It helps explore the dark side of the stereotypes, biases, and beliefs in the workplace about women and leadership. The case discusses aspects of the sudden and surprise firing in 2014 of Jill Abramson (Abramson), the first woman executive editor of The New York Times (NYT) in its 160-year-old history. In May 2014, the publisher of the company, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., suddenly announced the unceremonious exit of Abramson without giving any reasons, and thereby attracted a lot of media attention.
The abrupt firing raised questions on gender disparity, discrimination in salaries and incentives, sexism, and even non-acceptance of a disapproving look when it came from a woman. The behavior of Abramson, who was known to be aggressive in her communications with her team, her looks, and management style were all called into question; she was even described as having a “bitchy resting face” and a voice that sounded like a nasal car honk. Abramson did not share a great relationship with the publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., president and CEO Mark Thompson, and her direct report Dean Baquet, who eventually succeeded her. The issue also reignited the debate on whether women in the workforce, even those in high positions, got a raw deal compared to their male counterparts. There were several questions being debated such as: What should female employees do if they are a victim of gender pay inequity? Are female executives disliked, and even fired, for behaving too much like male managers?
The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:
- Understand and explore issues of gender in the workplace and the deep structures of power that marginalize, oppress, and silence individuals and groups
- Understand the issues and challenges faced by women in the workforce and also in leadership positions—gender inequality, gender disparity in compensation, sexism, what is considered acceptable behavior for women executives, etc.
- Debate on various aspects that led to the firing of the NYT’s first female executive editor
- Discuss ways in which the senior management of NYT could have handled the situation better
Gender issues; Leadership; Organizational behavior; Power; Gender pay inequity; Inequality; Discrimination; Bias; Stereotypes; Sexism; Business ethics; Second-generation gender bias; Stereotypical workplaces; Double-bind effect for women leaders; Office politics
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