5 Pieces of Good News About the Glass Ceiling
As a business coach and motivator I’m always on the look out for any obstructions that may get in the way of ambition, particularly when it comes to women in business.
The most frequently cited block for women has been the glass ceiling. This phrase first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and was quickly adopted by media and commentators.
According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, hitting the glass ceiling refers to “the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women in business from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements”. women in business.
You may be of the view that this situation may still prevail.
But I invite you to look a bit further.
Good news item 1: There’s evidence that the glass ceiling has been breached!
The USA takes the lead where women in business are making their mark from middle management to the top CEO positions of global organisations. A body of work reported in Harvard Business Review records that by 2017 over 50% of professional positions were held by women. Ranging from financial, accounting to medical and health sectors. Even more encouraging is the head count of 27 female CEOs of Fortune Top 500 Companies in January 2018. If you think that this is a feeble number, the organisations they head are not. The brands they represent make even the most ambitious salivate – from General Motors and Yahoo to KFC and PepsiCo. Not that its all “fun stuff” as energy and hard core manufacturing are included.
You may feel that this is too far removed from your particular country or market environment. If so then let me share 4 more snippets of good news which should drive you take on the challenge.
Good news item 2: The ceiling is glass so you can see what is waiting!
Transparency is the key word in business today. A lot due to reporting and regulatory requirements. And certainly because of the power of the web and social media.
The C-suite is no longer a mystery for women. If you have an appetite for entering this dimension then all you need to do is surf, observe and analyse. The beauty of glass is that it is transparent. Just make sure that you want what is on the other side.
Good news item 3: Look who’s seated at the table!
Support is waiting for those who are setting out to break through. The Board of Director profile is fast changing. A fine example is South Africa’s mining sector that boasts global leadership position when it comes to female board members. Just over 23% of the top 100 listed mining companies are held by women. Sadly by comparison only one of the top 40 JSE listed companies in South Africa can boast a female CEO.
Survey the board composition of your target. Its time to come up to global standard and cross the board!
Good new item 4: Men are being liberated!
Say whaaaaat? Women in business are still working hard at taking on key positions without being riddled with guilt or having to chop their hair short and suit up. A key to overcoming this is that they need their partners to step up and share the challenges of running a home and a business simultaneously. We live in a complex and diverse society, in particular in this country. But there are volumes of women who, from the every day achievers to top performer profiles, have the benefit of a supporting partner. So encourage yours to join the liberation. Regardless of whether your partner is a man or a woman! The rewards will be worth the effort.
Good news item 5: You can be you!
There was a time when the appointment of a CEO or a person in a leadership position was prescribed by a particular nature or management style. Sometimes the need was for a charismatic individual, others were, frankly, narcissists! Today the realisation is that the ideal leader is the individual who best demonstrates a diversity of skills. EQ now stands alongside IQ and motivation alongside visionary. In my experience women are more often hot-wired to nurture, lead, teach and support. These are all admirable qualities that a board or shareholders would be looking for in the leader they choose. So you can be you – even when you find yourself on the other side of the glass ceiling.
My parting motivation is this. When you reach the other side, please don’t forget to look down through that wonderful piece of glass. Find yet another woman that you can mentor or coach to break through and give them the encouragement to jump up.
Women in business has been written by Dawn Klatzko, an executive & business coach, motivational speaker and author. Find out more at www.theartofthesuit.co.za