A recent hiring decision by my current employer has me exploring the “glass ceiling”. An area of research I spent many hours with as an undergraduate and a professional conundrum that I battled with for at least a decade. I am fortunate I have been employed by industry leaders in technology, education, research and even manufacturing. The rub, I have had an inside view of some of the worst human resources practices imaginable, and it is disappointing.
I have watched talented women time after time find themselves presented hoop after hoop to jump through and test and more test to pass. While the boys have backroom conversations about which club member is next in-line for a promotion or why “she” is not ready. The most recent incident does not surprise me. Unfortunately, I believe these things are to be expected. I have a purview of countless situations in which a woman has lost position (either through a layoff, or maternity leave) so that a male colleague could have a promotion. Many of these were in my humble opinion unjustified terminations. Terminations of convenience, as they were, choosing not to do the just thing because the unjust yielded the most “personal” reward.
A dear family friend and executive told me once in describing the glass ceiling for me as it related to our place of employment, that there was a cap. A level of success that minorities (race, gender) and especially double minorities could or would be allowed to achieve at said organization. Please do not get me wrong, this was not new information for me. I had already sized the organization up for myself and knew this to be true, but to hear it from an “insider,” someone with a seat in the boardroom. Um. The unfortunate reality is that women in the context of this conversation Black Women face enormous pressures in the boardroom, been there done that, got the t-shirt.
I have often wondered how most of the men I have worked with sleep at night. The reality is they do not sleep; they send emails 24/7 because they cannot sleep at night. They are the first at the office and the last to leave only to go home a do more work because whether they realize it or not, their lack of character is eating them alive.
Which brings me to today, how 14 years after I earned my Bachelor degree and decades after the birth of the term glass ceilings we are still facing these challenges? Women still have babies, still like to look feminine, still nurture and continue to attempt to excel at all of the things that make us women and men ultimately do not respect any of it. Women continue to be viewed as weak, docile and as a liability in most professional settings. Now seriously, no one will say this or frame this concept this way, because it is the unpopular somewhat ugly truth, I merely speak based up 16 years of observations in multiple industries. When a woman faces a termination of convenience or a well place hoop it is usually dressed up as a reduction in force or a restructure. Dress it up how you may, we still have a glass ceiling because the boys choose to keep it in place.