A glass ceiling represents unseen barriers blocking women and minorities from moving upward in the corporate ladder. Despite work experience, achievements, and academic qualifications, these obstacles make it impossible for a woman or a minority to be promoted to ranks such as a chief executive officer or chief financial officer.
Discrimination and harassment
Racial, gender, and age discrimination are present in the workplace despite efforts to eliminate the vice. Gender discrimination undermines women’s participation in decision-making processes. Discriminatory workplaces undervalue women and minorities’ contributions to a company, causing the two to miss promotions. The prevailing culture sets top offices strictly for white males or men in general. It allows the majority group to discriminate against women and minorities by dictating what roles the latter performs.
Lack of monitoring and policy enforcement
Governments worldwide have passed laws and policies to achieve diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. The regulations mandate organizations to provide equal employment and promotion opportunities regardless of a person’s gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion. The laws protect women and minority groups against unfair treatment and discrimination. The enforcement of diversity and inclusivity laws would allow women and minorities to rise on the corporate ladder. However, these laws are not enforced, nor are companies monitored, contributing to the glass ceiling.
In many cultures, women assume child-rearing responsibilities while men serve as primary breadwinners. Child care and household demands hinder women’s career development because positions up the corporate ladder are demanding and inflexible. It becomes impossible for a woman to take care of the children and fulfil a CEO or CFO’s duties simultaneously. The situation forces women to choose either a career or a family, and in most cases, they opt to assume lower job positions to ensure they have adequate time to work and raise children.
Wrong perception and stereotypes
The majority group’s perception is a significant cause of the glass ceiling. For example, many white males believe they are losing opportunities and power to women and minorities. They view diversity and inclusivity policies as a direct threat to their development and career advancement. Such perceptions are wrong and cause the dominant group to resist and oppose any policies empowering women and minorities in the workplace.
The majority group constitutes men in an ethnically homogeneous society where religious, racial, and ethnic minorities do not exist. Stereotypes toward women also contribute to the glass ceiling. For example, many communities attribute women to specific roles and abilities. Due to stereotypical roles assigned to women, it is challenging for a woman to occupy a senior leadership position. Such positions are associated with men.
Psychological differences between genders contribute to the glass ceiling. Studies show that men are risk-takers, allowing them to compete for better salaries, promotions, and a position on the board of directors. In contrast, women are risk-averse, preventing them from demanding promotions or higher wages. Women are comfortable with mid-level managerial functions and are less likely to compete for high positions—these psychological differences between men and women influence who moves up the corporate ladder and who remains stagnant.
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