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Discrimination or Poor Management?

by Delainie Britton

On Wednesday, May 14 the media giant, The New York Times, made an abrupt announcement that the newspaper’s managing editor, Jill Abramson, had “involuntarily” left her position. Effective immediately, her successor, Dean Baquet became the managing editor and the first African-American Executive in the newspaper’s 162 year existence. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher and chairman of the company, was said to have fired Abramson in order to obtain new leadership that would “improve management in the newsroom.” Although Sulzberger had originally appointed Abramson three years ago, it is widely known by those employed by the Times, and the general public, that Sulzberger did not agree with her management style and that she was not much of a “people person among the staff.”

While this doesn’t sound all too unusual, a spark of controversy from rival media companies and public gossip threw gender inequality in the mix. According to The New Yorker, in the days leading up to Abramson’s dismissal, it is said that Abramson hired an attorney to discuss the possibility that her salary was not equal to that of her predecessor and male counterpart, Bill Keller. This possibility was spawned by alleged “reliable sources” that had access to such information, aka the rumor mill.  Once this detail was leaked, supporters of Abramson rallied behind her in an effort to exploit the possibility that Abramson’s pay was in fact lower and that challenging this issue contributed to her sudden departure, a huge discrimination concern and not so attractive PR for arguably one of the largest newspaper/digital media companies in the world. The Times and several top executives have both publicly and internally stated that neither unfair compensation nor Jill’s unhappiness with compensation was a factor in her firing.

Perhaps discomfort among investors due to this not so flattering controversy, led to the Time’s stock dropping 4.5% at the close on the day of Abramson’s firing and continues to drop slowly but surely, decreasing an additional 2.5% one week later according to Bloomberg News. While questions of why Abramson was fired still linger (she has yet to provide much comment on the true facts behind the gossip), we can all recognize that gender discrimination in the workplace continues (unfortunately) to remain a hot topic in today’s corporate world. It is not just journalism that has dealt with the glass ceiling.

In public accounting this can be seen as a concern as well-even today. New CPAs are over 50% women, however only 20% of firm partners are women according to a recent Forbes article. In a perfect future, we will see these statistics even out against their male counterparts as women’s confidence rises and their numbers increase. However, the question for Abramson still remains whether there was a pay gap? If so, was it a factor in her dismissal? Stay tuned for follow up as the Abramson investigation pans out!

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