The glass ceiling is a barrier so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women and minorities from moving up in the ladder to reach success. Three distinct causes of the glass ceiling have been identified. For one, many executives and managers are not held accountable for their actions toward equal opportunities and affirmative actions. Due to the lack of recommendations from managers and executives, many times women and minorities are not promoted or given higher positions. However, if the person is qualified, in most instances, the position is given to a man. If the decision is later questioned, managers and executives cover one another to prevent the issues from "leaking out".
Secondly, women and minorities are not encouraged to apply for higher positions and in most cases are not even made aware that such positions exist. Positions that offer higher salaries and potentially higher statuses are often discussed during lunches and or outings that regular staff is not invited to. Women and minorities are not encouraged to apply because it may cause a disruption in the company's philosophy.
Third, women and minorities often lack the skills necessary to fulfill the higher positions. For the most part, these groups are not included in company training and development opportunities; furthermore prohibiting them to apply for higher paying positions. Some companies have begun to offer mentoring opportunities to employees with the intention of shattering the glass ceiling. Studies show that women and minorities that have mentors tend to advance more often than those who do not have mentors.
The "glass ceiling" refers to the barriers that often confront Ethnic Americans and women in trying to reach the upper echelons of corporate America. According to a 1995 study commissioned by the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 97% of the senior managers of the Fortune 1000 Industrial and Fortune 500 are white, and 95-97% is male. This is occurring while 57% of the workforce is Ethnic minorities, woman, or both. The study also found that African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans do not earn the same pay for comparable positions.
The Glass Ceiling Commission has identified three levels of barriers that prevent the advancement of qualified minorities and women, social barriers, difference barriers, and governmental barriers. Societal barriers, which include a supply barrier related to educational opportunities and the level of job attainment.
The difference barrier is manifested through conscious and unconscious stereotyping and bias. The difference barrier translates into a syndrome that people who do the hiring feel most comfortable "hiring people who look like them." Stereotypes must be confronted with hard data because, if left unrefined, they become factual in the popular mind and reinforce glass-ceiling barriers.
Governmental barriers include the collection and disaggregating of employment related data, which make it difficult to ascertain the status of various groups at the managerial level. In addition, there continues to be inadequate reporting and dissemination of information relevant to glass ceiling issues. In the US, women are making slow but steady strides into management and the executive suite. Glass Ceiling research reveals that women of all racial and ethnic groups are most likely to be employed in the service industries and in finance, real estate, wholesale and retail trade. Nearly 75 percent of employed women work in these industries.
Women and minorities seem to have the greatest