The Carly Crisis. Or Not.

My mailbox is already being flooded by women's groups eager to pontificate on Carly's departure at HP. "Would things have been different if Carly had been a guy?" they urgently ask. "What if she had tried to act more feminine?" "More masculine?" "What does this say about women in business?" "Will young girls take this as an omen, and rush back to careers in teaching and nursing?"

Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of the constant agita every time a woman in corporate America decides to step down --- or is pushed. And I bet Ms. Fiorina will actually be relieved, at some level, no longer to be the poster child for American Women in Business. Maybe because I'm a Red Sox fan, I'm reminded of all those sportswriters last fall who kept asking, "What will happen if the Red Sox actually win the World Series? What if they're no longer baseball's perennial losers? Will they know how to act when they get up in the morning?" To which one of the players, exasperated, responded, "Just try us." So, too, with women in corporate America.

Women will finally know they've reached parity when a head chick's head rolls, and it's no longer more than just another business story. I, for one, long for the day. As for today's news: OK, so Carly's gone. I'm sorry it didn't work out for her, or for HP. Do I think the sky is falling? Nah. There are lots of cool women coming up behind her. I meet them every day. And besides, spring training is just a few weeks away.

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3 Comments

  • Seun Osewa

    Tom, isn't all this political activity expensive for the company? Is this why only small companies come up with technology that changes the world?

  • Tom Grey

    I think it mostly a case that she made a strong, and I think correct, acquisition move, but AGAINST the wishes of a large shareholder -- part of her collective "boss".

    I think it's still about a year too soon to evaluate well. But she failed to smooth the ruffled feathers, and the numbers were NOT good enough.

    Her numbers being low makes her vulnerable; as she must have known. She needed additional action to stay.

    IBM's had a few chiefs in the last two decades; and they're making a big move in China. Dell is doing "fine" -- but if not great, disappointing.

    The head has to meet the numbers, or be ready to go.

  • Jennifer

    Amen. I am looking forward to the day when a story about a woman exec does not have in is final paragraph, "So-and-so was the first woman to blah blah blah." In the meantime, I'll keep doing my part to get more women in those positions.