The term glass ceiling actually pertains to the situations in which the advancement of an individual within the hierarchy of the organization is constrained. The constraint is usually based on some form of discrimination such as prejudice or racial discrimination. It is referred to as a ceiling because the constraint blocks one’s rise in the ranks. The word glass has been appended to illustrate transparency which means that the constraint is not immediately noticeable and is likewise not written or stipulated in the policies of the organization. The glass ceiling is set apart from the other barriers to advancements such as requirements concerning education or experience. The analogy of the glass ceiling was employed to demonstrate the alleged condition that enables women and minorities to achieve only minor positions and keeps them from advancing to the top positions in the highest levels of the corporate world. For most people, the issue of the glass ceiling is an extension and an evidence of gender and racial discrimination and as such, should be counteracted by the implementation of affirmative action laws. Indeed, the phrase glass ceiling is frequently used in reference to the access of women to upper management; this is likewise extended to other groups such as racial or ethnic minorities or based on the age of the individual.
At present, statistics show that about seventy-one companies or 14% of the Fortune 500 companies still do not have any female member on their board. But the number of women occupying directorial positions is increasing, registering a share of 86% from these 500 companies who have at least one female member in the Board of Directors. However, women of color believe that institutional racism is still present in most companies. 47% of women of color cite the lack of mentor or sponsor in the workplace as a main barrier to their advancement. In addition to this, 53% of them believe that company programs are ineffective in dealing with racism issues (“Statistics-Women” 2005).
Usually, women of color encounter problems at work that serves as barriers for their career development. One of these, and most probably the primary one, is lack of mentors. Studies of corporate diversity programs reveal that the diversity initiatives are not as effective as they could be. Although women of color are aware of training in their corporation to address race and gender issues, only a few of their managers are willing to receive adequate training in managing a diverse work force.
Lack of networking opportunities and high-profile assignments are also often experienced by women of color in their work. This is due to the fact that most of the diversity programs of their company are ineffective in dealing with issues on racism. Especially nowadays when the number of women of color in the workforce rapidly increases resulting to stiffer competition, there is a need for companies to focus and concentrate on these women and tailor programs to fit their particular needs. Because of these barriers and obstacles experienced by women of colors in their workforce, these women in turn felt widespread dissatisfaction with the way their managers are treating them.
The person chosen for this interview is Emily Bradley, a black American currently employed as an executive assistant in an advertising agency. She graduated with flying colors from a degree in business management from the University of California in Fullerton.
Our interview questions revolved around the following questions:
· Being a woman, is there any instances in your life when you experienced some form of discrimination particularly racism?
· Didn’t those experiences affected your personality and development as a person? Has it dampens your self-esteem or performances? How did you react to the instances of discrimination?
· How were you able to climb up the corporate ladder and reach the top management position that you have today?
· Apart from determination and will-power, what other things you did or you had applied that contributed to your success?
· What can you recommend to other women of color who are still in the process of thriving in the society, in the academe, and in the workplace? What do you think are the factors that can contribute to a successful career or life especially for women of color who are currently experiencing the so-called glass ceiling?
According to Ms. Bradley, during her school years, she experienced being bullied and looked-down by her classmates as well as some teachers. At work, she was able to experienced being by-pass on promotions and other recognitions. She wasn’t able to get promoted due to glass ceiling. She knows she can do better jobs than other people and have what it takes to advance in the organization, but unfortunately, her skin color served as a hindrance and stumbling block for her to achieve success in her career. There were also instances when she was told not to meet with clients personally because her color might affect the business deal.
At first she was bothered, experienced self-pity and loss of confidence from all the treatment she had received making her want to give up. However, she decided to prove her detractors wrong and prove to herself that she deserves better from other people. She wanted to prove that color has nothing to do with success. And that in spite of her race and cultural background, she can be better than people of other races. Eventually, she managed not to be bothered by the hurtful and discriminating remarks hurled at her. In fact when she hears a discriminating remark right now, she can even smile at it. According to her, the opinions of other people do not really matter for as long as she knows that what she’s doing is right and that her conscience is always clean.
In climbing the corporate ladder, for one, she did her best in all the tasks assigned to her. There were times when the tasks given proved too difficult but it didn’t intimidate her. What she did was to stay focus and she keep in her mind that a particular task can always be accomplished with the right attitude; otherwise it will not be given to her. She also practice grace under pressure to avoid losing her temper especially in instances when a difficult task is coupled with rude remarks pertaining to her color. Her superior eventually liked her attitude in the workplace; they couldn’t say anything about her performance since she was able to meet all the standards and deadlines commendably. After this, her superiors and co-workers have no other option but to consider her for promotion and performance-based reward schemes. Soon enough, she was able to finally advance her career in the organization. At this point, she was able to realize that as her position in their company advances, people give her more regard and respect.
Apart from determination and will-power, she attended training and seminars concerning her field of interest, as well as crash courses and dialogues on how to hone her advertising and marketing skills in order to be successful in her career. She also sees to it that she is always up-dated on any information that is related to the field of advertising and marketing. When she had free times, she read books and on-line journals and articles to learn new things and keep abreast with the current trends in her field. On the side she attends seminars and talks concerning self-confidence, public speaking, and other self-help forums that can contribute to her work. With regards to the workplace, she encourages teambuilding activities and other things that can promote and enhance her relationship with other people in her team.
Ms. Bradley recommends to other women of color not to lose hope, give their best in everything, not to get easily affected by what they hear in times when they are being discriminated. She also advised women like her to find ways to further themselves, their skills and knowledge, have the right attitude, determination and will-power to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve, believe in themselves and most of all never be ashamed of their skin color performance in the workplace. At present, Ms. Bradley is enjoying a good treatment from the company as well as a good position and a lavishing compensation. She has several people under her supervision and has been delegated in countless times to handle important clients as well as marketing and advertising projects.
The four things one can do to help their own career are: first, finish a degree. A diploma can do a lot of things as it can earn the respect of other people; it is a good contributing factor in the resume, and it is good on the self-esteem because when one look at it, it gives one a sense of fulfillment and achievement. It serves as a proof that one can actually attain success if one wants to and if one intends to.
The second advice is, never think twice in applying for job post in credible and large-scales companies. This is due to the fact that a lot of women whether white or not are apprehensive in applying for jobs in well known companies for fear of being turn down not only because of their skin colors but also because of their gender. This should not be the case as there are certain job positions an there are certain women who can actually handle the work better than their male or white counterpart.
Having enough guts to face the world is also advisable. A job can take one to anywhere and can help one meet all kinds of people. Never feel shy of interacting with other people in spite of the differences in ski n color, gender, and job titles. One should have enough courage and guts to face all the challenges and people along the way. The cliché no guts, no glory rings true.
The fourth recommended advice is knowledge and skill enhancement. Never be content of what one has in the present. Life can only get better so do not let age and other factors hinder one from exploring other opportunities, and from developing what one has right now. Attend training and seminars to enhance and update ones skills and knowledge. This can make one more efficient at work. And being efficient can lead to favorable results such as earning the respect of other people in the company.