The Glass Ceiling in the Corporate Sphere

The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, created out of the Civil Rights act of 1991, is one of the first notable organizations that sought to address the rampant inequalities faced by countless working women, as well as people of color, across the country. Its goal was to look into these individuals’ inability to advance in the corporate sphere, with the main approach being to determine the barriers preventing their success [1]. Through research, the commission, at the time, found that “97% of the senior managers of Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 companies are white; 95 to 97% are male. In Fortune 2000 industrial and service companies, 5% of senior managers are women—and of that 5%, virtually all are white [2]." Statistics, like this notable example, work to highlight the systemic inequality faced by women of all backgrounds, which, in effect, can make achieving prominent positions of leadership, especially senior-level management positions, a borderline impossible feat to accomplish. In order to raise awareness towards diversity creation and the destruction of the glass ceiling, for minority women especially, it is essential that U.S. companies begin to cater towards inclusion: by not doing so, businesses are working against their own financial interests, fueling the injustice against women in the workplace.

Reflecting on the initiative taken by the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, its efforts to reveal this systemic inadequacy in corporations is further stressed when taking account of the correlation between a company’s financial success and its percentage of women and minority involvement. Relating to a study done in January of 2004 by Catalyst, 353 companies were examined in terms of the magnitude of gender diversity in senior management positions, narrowing in on each respective organization’s financial performance. Inspecting five different sectors, several of which being the financial and industrial sectors, it was found that “companies with the highest representation of women in their top management teams experienced better financial performance than companies with the lowest representation of women” [3], a discovery that works to further cement the notion that companies providing a say to their women and minority workers of color is one which, in effect, gives greater financial stability. 

By distancing themselves from actions that work to reinforce the glass ceiling and instead embracing successful strategies of implementation, companies can become prosperous, while also providing women with the ingredients necessary to increase their corporate influence. In order to achieve this, it is imperative that we investigate the specific circumstances that act as barriers towards women representation in businesses, as well as the corporate strategies that prove to be promising in effectively creating gender diversity. With these issues in mind, we can begin to get a picture of what must be done in the corporate world in order to put an end to the glass ceiling that still continues to be a major issue to this day.

[1] Jackson, Janet C. "Women Middle Managers' Perception of the Glass Ceiling." Women in Management Review 16, no. 1 (2001): 30.

[2]  Glass Ceiling Commission. “Good for Business: Making Full Use of the Nation’s Human Capital.” U.S. Glass Ceiling Commission.

[3] Johns, Merida L. “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Structural, Cultural, and Organizational Barriers Preventing Women from Achieving Senior and Executive Positions.” Perspectives in health information management, vol. 10, (2013): 1e.

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