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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"Those who complain about glass ceilings should keep in mind that glass can be shattered if one strikes it hard enough and long enough.”

- Russel Madden.1

"The glass ceiling that's holding women executives back is not just above them, it's all around them, in the whole structure of the organization: the beams, the walls, the very air...most of the barriers that persist today are insidious - a revolution couldn't find them to blast them away.”

- Debra Meyerson and Joyce K. Fletcher.2

"People often say there is a glass ceiling. And my reflection on that is, it's just a thick layer of men.”

- Laura Liswood, Secretary General of the Council of Woman World Leaders.

The 'Glass Ceiling' Breaks

In February 1998, Meg Whitman (Meg) became the President and CEO of eBay, the largest online auction company in the world. In July 1999, Carly Fiorina (Carly) was announced the CEO of Hewlett Packard (HP). Carly became the first woman CEO of a Dow 50 company and the only woman CEO of a Fortune 503 company.

In January 2002, Patricia F Russo (Pat) was made President and CEO of Lucent Technologies4. The trend of women achieving top management positions was not only noticed in the developed countries, but also in the developing countries like India. In June 2001, Lalita D Gupte (Lalita) was made the head of ICICI's global operations.

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

She also ranked 31 in the Fortune's Power Fifty,5 2001. Other examples included Kalpana Morparia, Senior General Manager (Legal), ICICI and Gayathri Parathasarthy Head, Development Integration Services, a SBU for the IT services division at i-Flex Solutions. Indian women achieved top management positions in corporates outside India as well.

In April 2000, Indra Nooyi (Indra) was promoted as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and President of PepsiCo. Indra had the rare distinction of being the highest-ranking Indian woman in the corporate world of America. She was also ranked by Fortune as one of the most powerful women. In August 2002, Naina Lal Kidwai (Naina) became the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the Indian investment banking division of HSBC. Naina was also ranked third on Fortune's list of Asia's most powerful women, and she was declared the 47th most powerful women in business in the world. Others included Jayashree Vallal, Vice-President at Cisco Systems, and Radha Ramaswami Basu, CEO of

The Corporate Glass Ceiling - Next Page>>

1] A fiction and non-fiction writer, Russel Madden has a Master's degree in Communication Studies and a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and general studies from the University of Iowa. One of his popular books, 'The Greatest Good', is based on politics and ethics.

2] Authors of the Harvard Business Review article "A Modest Manifesto for Shattering the Glass Ceiling.”

3] The list of 50 largest companies in the US based on revenues.

4] In Fortune magazine's annual survey of the Power Fifty, 50 Most Powerful Women in Business are selected. The magazine tracks the emergence of women who came to power slowly, by staying with a company, steadily built influence, and rose to power through determination and insider knowledge.

5] List of 'Most Powerful Women in Business' across the world.


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