the Glass Ceiling: A
Strategy for Survival
the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission released a report stating that
only 7%-9% of senior managers at Fortune 1000 firms are women. (Korn-Ferry
and Catalyst). This is compelling, considering women make up almost
one half of the nation's workforce. Highly educated and/or
experienced women face their biggest challenges at upper levels of
corporations. As a result, they have been known to
disproportionately cluster in "white collar ghettos" or
the bottom tiers of management and lowest paying industries.
Well-qualified women face barriers spawning from stereotypes or
preconceptions (81%), employers who feel an aversion to taking a
risk by hiring a female (49%), or not carefully planning their
careers or job assignments to benefit them. Most astounding, a
recent survey found that less then 1% of CEOs see the development of
high potential women as a priority.
company chooses to continue to exclude qualified women from top
management positions it is most probable that they will find
themselves unable to compete in an increasingly diversified
marketplace and will lose an extraordinary amount of talent,
creativity and productivity. Women today are leaving the corporate
sector in vast numbers-twice the rate of men. They are not leaving
to tend to their families but rather to seek positions that are more
satisfying and rewarding or start up their own business. According
to a study released last year by the National Foundation for Women
Business Owners, women own approximately 7.7 million firms; an
increase of 43% since 1990. Women are forming new businesses at
double the rate of men. In turn, big companies are losing valuable
players. This loss is becoming more and more costly to organizations
that have invested time and money in their employees. It would serve
both organizations and women to reexamine the obstacles that prevent
females from advancing and from being valued in the workplace.
WOMEN CAN DO
to know what you want and must clearly define your goals and
priorities. Develop strong relationships with others in the company,
focusing on those individuals with high authority. Ask these people
for feedback on their performance and then make it a point to act on
their recommendations. Improve creditability by taking on
challenging assignments that are visible to upper management.
Document every successful assignment completed and the positive
impact your efforts had on the organization. Present these during
your review. Become knowledgeable of the less quantifiable criteria
for evaluation such as personality, loyalty, networking etc.
MANAGEMENT SHOULD DO
must learn to recognize and appreciate gender differences as
positive qualities which can serve as assets for the organization.
They must loose their preoccupation with old male-oriented
procedures. For example, instead of meeting over drinks, meet for
breakfast or as a group. Males and females differ in their
communicative approaches. Therefore, permit each individual to talk
through a situation in their own way, at their own pace. Don't allow
emotions to get in the way of good judgment. Most importantly,
implement a program that eliminates cultural and structural biases.
Examine organizational design, staffing and performance reward
systems. Incorporate mentoring programs for women and minorities and
hold managers acceptable for initiatives by rewarding only those who
successfully meet the goals of the program.
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