Glass ceiling

What is the glass ceiling and how do we break it?

The glass ceiling is defined as the inability of many women to advance professionally even though, in theory, there are no laws or regulations of any kind that prevent them from moving up the ladder. It is a term that is also being used lately for some minorities that suffer similar situations but, in general, it refers to what women suffer. 

The glass ceiling metaphor is used because the barrier to professional advancement that women often encounter is invisible. This means that those who suffer from it cannot point it out to others or objectively demonstrate that it exists: they cannot argue that a rule disadvantages them, or it is written that there is no place for them at the top. They can see those positions from where they are thanks to the transparency of the glass and, apparently, nothing prevents them from reaching them. However, when it comes down to it, they encounter multiple obstacles to break through this mysterious barrier and develop professionally in the same way as men

There is a lot of literature on the economic, sociological, or political causes that favor the existence of the glass ceiling. In a nutshell, they are due to a huge lack of confidence in female talent, which prevents women from seeing their ability to take on major business responsibilities, effectively influence the company’s progress, or become involved in the company at a high level (i.e. at a level that requires setting aside many other aspects of life, including raising a family and taking care of it). 

In addition, the existence of a glass ceiling in organizations leads to a decrease in the purchasing power of women compared to their male colleagues, generating a pay gap that leaves them in a vulnerable situation when making vital decisions: having children, taking an absence, changing careers or companies, etc. 

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Glass ceiling

The characteristics of the glass ceiling

1. It is invisible. The glass ceiling is implicit, it does not obey any specific law nor is it justified by any use: it happens in practice without existing in theory. 

2. It is transparent. It allows you to see what is on the other side, higher up the career ladder but prevents you from moving in that direction. 

3. It is hard. Although different kinds of explanations are found for its existence, no one seems to know how to justify it or, even worse, put an end to it. 

These characteristics make the glass ceiling an often misleading concept, especially for those who are not affected by it. In these cases, it is taken for granted that, because the goal is known and visible, all runners leaving the starting line at the same time do so in the same conditions and with the same ability to reach it. In reality, this is not the case: not everyone has the same equipment, not everyone will find the same hydration stations during the race and, of course, not everyone will take the same route -equally flat, equally straight, equally short- to the finish line. 

Corporate areas affected by the glass ceiling 

1. Team cohesion: if a woman sees her male colleagues have better job opportunities than her, it will be more difficult for her to cooperate with them and stop seeing them as disloyal rivals, even if it is against her will.

2. Talent retention: if a woman senses there is a glass ceiling in her company that prevents her from progressing, she will leave for another company that offers her better career opportunities.

3. Internal and external reputation: a company with a glass ceiling is not attractive for an inbound recruiting strategy and will not have the best opinion of its internal customers, who will tend to be reluctant to act as potential brand ambassadors. 

4. Productivity: if a woman comes to the conclusion that, whatever she does, she will not be promoted on equal terms, she will not find the motivation to perform at the highest level. 

Invisible, transparent, or hard, the truth is that the glass ceiling seriously harms women’s personal and professional development, negatively affecting their psychological well-being and the performance of the companies where they work. This is why it must be shattered. 

Glass ceiling

Ifeel has created an emotional well-being program for companies, designed by its team of leading psychologists to help companies place the care of their employees’ psychological health at the heart of their company culture.  

Thanks to this partnership, organizations will have the tools they need to make their employees feel their company is a good place to work and develop their careers.  

In addition, HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice on how to prevent the existence of glass ceilings in their company that obstruct the commitment and motivation of their employees from within.   

Additionally, ifeel‘s well-being at work program offers employees a mental health care service structured at different levels depending on individual needs. As a result, they can access various mental health care tools with ifeel‘s app. On a second level, they can receive emotional support through a chat with one of our platform’s registered psychologists. If additional support is needed they can access the third level of the program: online psychological therapy with a psychologist specialized in cases such as theirs.

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