The Corporate Glass Ceiling

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB019
Case Length : 12 Pages
Period : 1998 - 2001
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Varied
Industry : Varied
Countries : India, USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The 'Glass Ceiling' Breaks Contd...

With the above developments, some analysts and feminist groups were quick enough to announce that finally, women were breaking the highest of the 'glass ceilings' which had become an invisible barrier for many women making efforts to achieve top management positions in leading corporates across the world.

Though there was a significant improvement in women's participation in the corporate world during the last few decades, not many women reached the 'O-Zone'6 level. The debate over the glass ceiling's existence had been continuing for many decades. Women had been raising voices against the 'glass ceiling' phenomenon.

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

However, the men in the corporate world denied the very existence of any such phenomenon. Moreover, some women who had reached high positions did not testify the existence of the glass ceiling. They felt that it only took some extra effort, some compromises and support from the family, for women to reach the top.

The 'Glass Ceiling' Controversy

According to the US Department of Labor, a 'glass ceiling' is "an artificial barrier based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevents qualified women and other minorities7 from advancing upward in their organization into senior management level positions.” The concept of 'glass ceiling' surfaced in the US in the late 1970s. A glass ceiling was not a barrier to an individual as such, but a barrier to women and other minorities as a group. Initially, one of the main reasons cited for the existence of a glass ceiling was that women did not have the required experience and skills to reach the top management.

They were restricted to clerical and other support services jobs. The reason seemed to be true, as in the late 1970s and early 1980s, very few women had proper college education and fewer had management degrees. A survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal in 1986 revealed that the highest-ranking women in most industries were in non-operating areas such as personnel, public relations and finance. These functional specializations rarely led to top management positions...

Excerpts >>

6] The 'O- Zone level' comprises top management positions including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

7] According to the U.S. government, minorities included American Indians or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Blacks, and Hispanic individuals.


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