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How not to handle criticism


Congratulations to Twitter for appointing Marjorie Scardino, former CEO of media company Pearson, as its first female board member earlier this month. Hiring Scardino is a good move after much criticism of Twitter’s board of mostly white males for the past six years. However, if the company thinks this news will put to rest the long-running debate over its controversial lack of women on the board, it can think again. 

When the issue of Twitter’s poor female representation surfaced in The New York Times last year, CEO Dick Costolo didn’t help by responding with a jokey tweet. His seemingly blasé attitude to accusations of sexism quite rightly intensified the discussion and outraged many on the site.

The fact that 40 per cent of tech companies still have no women on their boards (EY, Diversity drives diversity 2013) just goes to show that companies must strive harder to achieve a more balanced and better represented board. There are lots of talented women out there, so please no more excuses.

The worsening gender gap in marketing was highlighted in last month’s issue of B2B Marketing. The feature highlighted the fact that more than twice as many men reach director level compared to women. It was good to hear some honest accounts from senior female marketers on feeling the need to go the extra mile, all because they are women. A sad truth.

Twitter may have been slow to take up action to diversify its board after resisting numerous calls for change, but at least it’s starting to make amends. I hope it has learned its lesson after a textbook case of how not to handle criticism as a supporter of women in the boardroom.