Glass Ceiling and Glass Walls

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Recently, LA Times ran an article on the Return of the Glass Ceiling or as they put it, the female free management zone of corporate business. This article calls attention to a subject many have been lulled into thinking is on the way to be solved: the common belief is that women are assuming more corporate management positions and directorships and that women have free choice in how and where they advance in their careers.

Recently, LA Times ran an article on the Return of the Glass Ceiling or as they put it, the female free management zone of corporate business. This article calls attention to a subject many have been lulled into thinking is on the way to be solved: the common belief is that women are assuming more corporate management positions and directorships and that women have free choice in how and where they advance in their careers.

Statistics show that this is definitely not the case; in fact the situation is at best status quo or getting worse for women in corporations in spite the occasional standout exception like Indra Nooyi, the new CEO of Pepsi. There is a glaring dearth of women in the top executive suites of major corporations in the US in spite the fact that women have been getting over a third of the MBAs since the 1980s and that women comprise of over fifty percent of the managerial and professional workforce. For women of color the glass ceiling is even so much harder to break.

In 64 of the Fortune 500 companies, there are no women at all in the management team house hold names like Owens-Illinois, Saks Inc. Borders, Newell Rubbermaid, Toll Brothers, and Whirlpool. These companies customers are predominantly female and yet they do not seem to recognize that having women on the leading team will add to the productivity and effectiveness of their organizations.

Women are starting businesses at twice the pace of men and their businesses are prospering at twice the growth rate as all firms. Yet in corporations women earn only 75% of what men make in comparable positions, and they are assigned to be in staff position twice as often.

The issue of the Glass Ceiling for women is a particularly timely topic since the X and Y generations have grown up with less of an awareness/need of having to fight for their rights in education and sports. They are now just beginning to realize that the rise up the corporate hierarchy is fraught with barriers that they thought was dealt with and broken by their mothers and grandmothers.

The Glass Ceiling in corporate business is still very much in place and equally rigid are the Glass Walls, which the LA Times article also alluded to. Glass walls, the invisible obstructions that keep women from learning the range of skills that is required to rise up in a company is even more insidious. Why should everyone care? Because it is good for business. A study conducted by Catalyst , a nonprofit research and advisory organization, showed that companies with more women executives financially outpace those with fewer women executives.

Simply put, the reason that we all need to be concerned about breaking down the glass ceiling and glass walls is that in todays world it is foolhardy to bypass half the available talent, especially since we are experiencing a skilled labor imbalance and shortage globally. It is good for business to be in tune with our customers needs. With women holding over 80% of the purchasing power in the US, we need to know and understand our customer. To integrate the customer group into the management of the business just makes good business sense.

Additionally we need to expand the issue of the glass ceiling and glass walls to all affected groups all who are not similar in ways to the current management demographics. This concept of exclusion/inclusion expands past the gender issue and includes all ethnicity, national origin, regional differences and religious/sexual orientation. The time to address the Glass Ceilings and Glass Walls is upon us.

Marilyn Tam is a Corporate Consultant, Speaker, Author, Executive Director and Co-founder of Us Foundation. Ms. Tam was formerly the President of Reebok Apparel and Retail Group; CEO of Aveda Corp. and Vice President of Nike Inc. She is also a successful entrepreneur, having developed and built companies in corporate consulting & training, a web portal company and a supply chain software company. Marilyn Tams international selling book, How to Use What Youve Got to Get What You Want, combines her business acumen with her goal of giving back to show others how to achieve their dreams. www.HowToUseWhatYouveGot.com

Her internationally selling book, How to Use What Youve Got to Get What You Want is available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Indonesian and soon will be in Indonesian and Thai. In her book, Ms. Tam talks about how to discover your own inner North Star, and how to use it to navigate your efforts to achieve maximum personal success. The hardcover is available for $14.00 on Amazon.com. Click