Airswift CEO Janette Marx wrote a special feature for the October 2018 issue of CEO Today Magazine. In her article, Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Marx recalls the very beginnings of the term ‘glass ceiling’ as well as her own experience in the professional work industry.
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The term ‘glass ceiling’ was coined by Marilyn Loden, an American writer and management consultant, in 1978 during a panel discussion about women’s aspirations. Forty years on and businesses worldwide have made great strides when it comes to gender parity. Yet the glass ceiling metaphor continues to symbolise an enduring barrier faced by women in the workplace – recently Recruiter reported that only 6% of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women. So how can we shatter the glass ceiling?
Cleaning the sticky floor
To tackle the glass ceiling, we first need to understand the phenomenon of the ‘sticky floor’. This phrase refers to women typically occupying low paying, low mobility jobs and therefore being stuck at the bottom of the career ladder. When I entered the recruitment industry in 1994, I worked full-time as a recruiter for Olsten Staffing Services while completing my undergraduate degree. And while I was driven, I was fortunate to work alongside a progressive team and had opportunities to grow and develop, which isn’t always the case.
In order to accelerate women through the ranks, a cultural shift is needed and no company alone will turn the tide. Significant groundwork has been laid by many already; however, if we can get even more schools, universities and organisations working as one to tackle the challenge I’m confident we’ll make a noticeable difference.