This research was conducted from an investigate concept through personal interviews of minorities and female executives, Human Resources executive recruiters, through journals, articles from websites, peer publications, and secondary research of studies performed through data collection and data analyzation. The various articles and journals reviewed will provide an overview of the glass ceiling, address the problems and challenges, identify the types of barriers and trends, and propose a solution.
Through this study we will attempt to measure whether organization’s recruitment process, criteria, and strategic plans are aligned with the goals and objectives to meet the needs of the organization and better identify the best qualified candidate and improve the organization’s bottom line. Glass Ceiling Overview Definition The “glass ceiling” is defined as the invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached by a section of qualified and deserving employees.
Such barriers exist due to implicit prejudice on the basis of age, ethnicity, political or religious affiliation, and/or sex. Although generally illegal, such practices prevalent in most countries (www. businessdictionary. com) Overview The analogy “glass ceiling” is a terminology used quite often in corporate America to best identify just how far women or minorities have or will rise up the corporate ladder.
Many feel it is often impossible for that demographic to exceed beyond the level of mid-management; and although we have made some strides and have increased the number of women and minorities entering today’s workforce, it’s no surprise a small fraction of those have successfully risen to the executive level in the corporate environment. Problems and Challenges Women Women face greater barriers and rely on strategies for advancement that are different from those of their male counterparts (Lyness and Thompson, 2000).
There are many ways discrimination against women exists, such as job segregation, gaps in compensation, sexual harassment, inability to participate in career developmental opportunities, lack of available mentorship programs, and the lack of career advancement opportunities. According to a report from the federal bipartisan Glass Ceiling Commission (1995), 95% to 97% of senior managers of Fortune 1000 industrial and Fortune 500 companies are men, yet white males make up only about 43% of the workforce. The same study reported that only 5% of senior managers in the Fortune 2000 industrial and service companies are women.
These commission findings are especially striking since women make up nearly half of the workforce (www. highbeam. com). One would have you believe the success of women career both economically and self gratifying can only be accomplished if and only if there is a change in behavior. We want to believe the selection process is objective and carefully thought out. Yet, others expect the process to be about the individual’s performance and merits and together the choice is based on the right fit for the organization. I conducted a total of 22 individual personal interviews, 11 of which included female executives.
When asked what were some of the challenges they faced throughout their tenure? The responses varied but the one thing each clearly stated was “learning the language of the male dominant role”. Other challenges provided were: • Advantages males have related to social networking • Lack of mentorship • Wage gaps for comparable work • Work-life balance • Shadows of the predecessor Minorities The remaining personal interviews conducted were with 11 male minority executives. When asked what were some of the challenges they faced throughout their tenure?
Again, the responses were in variations; however each clearly identified “race” was the greatest challenge. But, the one thing that I found to be quite astounding when each expounded on race as an issue, was they all made the decision in their career they would not make this their problem, yet it would be others. What I got out of those words was without acknowledgment there cannot be acceptance. Other challenges provided were:
• Respect • Removal of identity crisis • Externally viewed before internally judged • Education inferiority (studies outside of the U. S. ) • Mindset of organizational promotions Human Resources Meeting with executive recruitment representatives, I found they in fact face many of the same challenges women and minorities face. As a recruiter their responsibility first and foremost is to stay in-lined with the organization’s mission and vision. However finding the most qualified candidate is the biggest challenge. In terms of demographics, they aggressively seek to recruit more women or minorities for those positions because there is such a small percentage currently in place.
Unfortunately if the candidate is not the right fit or if felt the cultural and/or environment carry an abundance of testosterone, many of the female executives are driven away which begins the recruitment process. Another challenge is with the selection process and not being able to question the decision-making especially when clearly felt other candidates were possessed more qualifications. Glass Ceiling Barriers Types The gender wage gap if asked is probably the biggest challenge women executives will tell you they encounter.
A study conducted by the National Census Bureau showed U. S. omen still earned only 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008, according to the latest census statistics. That number drops to 68% for African-American women and 58% for Latinas (www. time. com). When speaking with one female executive she explains “one of the biggest challenges she faced would be the initial promotion as an executive. She indicated she was very excited because she knew the promotion was not only well deserved but she would be the only female executive within the organization. However in looking back she realized how the male dominant environment worked as she would only receive a 3% pay increase”.
She regrets that decision but stated she attributes who she is today because of that unfortunate event. Discrimination or harassment is another challenge women and/or minorities face in achieving executive positions. African American executives feel to survive this culture it is essential remain true to themselves. However women executives will tell you there is a constant misrepresentation related to the gender and the ability to maintain as their counterparts. Although illegal, discrimination and harassment occurs subtle and overtly, with the glass ceiling harassment being the most difficult to prove.
Work and family is another major challenge women face because many of the female executives are made to choose between working long hours and their family; while their male counterparts don’t have to make such decisions thereby giving them the opportunity and ability to put in those extra hours. The lack of mentorship is also challenging. One of the interviewees stated “higher profile jobs at the executive level will require more of your time. It is felt that males can depart and detach, however females feel an excuse has to be made”.
Women enter the business environment in the early stages of their careers and in many instances are usually on the same level as men. However, according to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) studies show in the next 5 to 10 years, men seem to benefit from upward career movement more than women, in part because women do not locate mentors as easily as men (www. shrm. com). Some organizations have recognized the need to assist in getting mentors and have also implemented training and development programs in support of women and minorities to develop mentoring relationships.
Leadership Challenges Roles and responsibilities Many female and minority executives say leadership can be quite challenging especially being in the shadow of a predecessor. For women achieving this role, it is a constant second guessing of management styles. Clearly men and women possess different leadership styles. However one group may view as more of the nurturing role whereas counterparts are viewed as having no personal or emotional ties and are in capable of relating to personal issues. Many women feel like the outsider at the executive management level.
They also have to deal with the shrewdness of having to prove they belong in that role. One of the interviewees is a Captain in the Police Department who not only was the first female she was the first African American to obtain that high ranking in the organization. One of her greatest challenge is having to constantly prove that she fits into this male dominant career. Many decisions are questioned and she often times finds herself having to put on the hardcore role to show she is capable of performing her roles and responsibilities while her counterparts are received with blessings.
Courtney from Study Moose
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