Breaking Through Corporate Smudges on Glass Ceilings

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Do you remember in 2019 when Forbes published their ‘America's Most Innovative Leaders List’? And then 5 days later they published an article on their own website titled Opportunity Missed: Reflecting On The Lack Of Women On Our Most Innovative Leaders List. It’s incredible to see such a reputable organization like Forbes completely miss the boat on the opportunity to write and publish something great and inspiring for all genders, but instead they published a list of 99 innovative male leaders with 1 female leader in the list.


Women in Business


That article got me thinking about the numbers and how women have grown in the industry - the numbers were surprising!

With 47% of women in college studying to earn a business degree, they are our future too.

That stat was awesome to see and it's a stat that large companies need to be aware of. We need to continue to inspire not just men, but also the strong, smart, incredibly innovative women who are working their butts off to grow and become leaders.


Speaking of leaders, let’s look at where women are out of college and in the business world:


In 2020 the number of women in senior management roles globally stayed around the same from 2019 at 29%, which by the way, is the highest number ever recorded.

Is it me, or does that number seem low? How do we continue to grow these numbers to create an even playing field for men and women?


How Do We Inspire and Grow


I’ll tell you from my own experience; we need to start from the top (aka, the leaders, the big dawgs, the ones who hold the reigns or think they hold the reigns). We need to inspire all genders and not just highlight one. We need to lift up, support and allow women who are just getting started in the corporate world to have a voice and not be spoken over. We need to advance women for their successes and not hold them back because of their desire to grow a family.


In all honesty, this has been a topic I have been wanting to write about for years, but I have had so much fear of sharing my experience as a woman in business. But I am now at a point in life where I am ready to share my thoughts, feelings and experiences on this topic.


Getting Raw and True With My Experience


I've worked for various corporate companies for 14 years. I have seen and/or experienced gender discrimination, gender bias and gender inequality at different points. By no means have I seen this at every business I have worked at (I have had the opportunity of working at some great companies with wonderful bosses), but the issues at some companies are real and these issues are why I moved on to another company.


I want to share some of the things I have experienced, not for sympathy, but to open others eyes that these things happen and if you happen to be at a supervisor level, you should take note that these things are not ok:


  • I experienced extreme verbal harassment by a male boss who also threatened to withhold my paycheck. It took going to the state workforce commission for him to back down and to stop harassing me.

  • I experienced isolation in the workplace where I was told to stay in my cubicle and to not talk to other employees while working.

  • I experienced being paid less than other coworkers who were in a lower-level position from me even though I had more experience and tenure.

  • I experienced an article that I wrote being taken from me because they wanted to publish the words I wrote with someone who was more senior to author it. (This article was about success of women in business. Oh the irony.)

  • I experienced being bumped down to a lower job role the day I returned from my maternity leave because I was growing my family and they felt I belonged in a different job role.

  • I experienced being the only one to not receive a salary increase the same year I had my child.


One thing I learned every time I would experience some form of gender discrimination is that I wasn't alone. I think just about every woman I know in corporate America has a story to tell from an experience they have had in the workplace that can be linked to their gender.


Looking Deeper at the Numbers of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace


42% of women in the United States say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender.

It doesn't feel right that the stat isn't surprising to me as I have had so many friends and coworkers over the years share their experiences with me. As I looked more into the research with that stat I came across a chart that really resonated with me as so many things in the list I have actually experienced in the workplace... My feelings were "Wow, so basically I am not alone all across the country."


But not feeling alone isn't going to fix this issue. I mean, maybe it empowers me to break through the glass ceiling when I go back to the corporate world once my little ones are in school. But what really needs to happen is:


  • Men should be 100% part of the change and to be aware of what is happening in the workplace.

  • Men should be self aware of when they are speaking to not speak over or silence them with their power.

  • Men should not make women feel little or lesser, and to support women in their career growth through compensations and promotions.

  • Women need to stand up for what they believe is right, true and the way to go.

  • Women need to support each other if they see another woman struggling.

  • Women need to stand tall, don't be hesitant or indecisive.

  • Women have to believe in themselves. Throw away the fear of failure. You are smart. You are strong. You are capable.


On International Women's Day, women are being celebrated in the workplace, but this shouldn't just happen on 1 day of the year - it should be continuous throughout the year. When we focus on just 1 day, we leave a smudge on the corporate glass ceiling, but it’s time to break through. Women and men need to work together to overcome this gender bias issue in the workplace for change to actually happen to break through those smudged glass ceilings all together.


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