When the second to last episode of Lost aired recently, the blogosphere was abuzz. Jacob crossed Kate’s name off the list of his potential successors because she was now a mother. He assumed (possibly incorrectly) that she would no longer want the job. Even in the fantasy world of Lost, there appears to be a glass ceiling.
What fascinated me even more than the possible discrimination was the fact that there was a list.
Jacob stole a technique from Corporate America. He identified candidates to be his successor and created a list – written in chalk in a cave.
Managers and executives make all kinds of lists. Promotions aren’t spontaneously decided; they are planned well in advance using candidate lists. There are lists for management candidates, executive fast-track candidates, and more. It’s a great technique to help with succession planning and manage skills. But it’s also a technique that leaves behind a great number of employees. Be assured that if your name isn’t on the list for an opportunity you’re pretty much out of the running.
What’s worse than your name not being on the list? Having your name crossed off the list.
Even though Jacob responded that it was “just a line of chalk in a cave,” when Kate asked why her name had been taken off the list, I would argue that it’s much more than that. When your name is crossed off the list, you need to fight three times harder to get it back on.
Then again, maybe if your name gets crossed of the list you’d be better off somewhere else anyway. What do you think?