The Concrete Ceiling

The Concrete Ceiling

There may be more diversity directors today, but minority women in professional and management positions say it’s still difficult to reach managerial positions of the corporate world.

The metaphor of a ‘concrete ceiling’ stands in sharp contrast to that of the ‘glass ceiling’. Glass ceiling and concrete ceiling refer to the barrier that limits upward mobility of qualified people, especially women. Glass ceiling is often used to describe a situation where the advancement of qualified people in an organisation is withheld because of certain forms of discrimination. The most commonly known discriminations include racism and sexism. Concrete ceiling is also a term that describes the barrier which blocks the advancement of qualified persons. However, when compared with glass ceiling, concrete ceiling is harder to break through.

Many women of colour who have made it on boards and to the top management position describe the process as breaking through not a glass ceiling, but a concrete one. Research conducted by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co suggests that women of colour are the most underrepresented group in the senior and upper ranks of companies. Women of colour occupy 12% of first- level managers, compared with 45% for their white male peers. Black, Hispanic and Asian women are eager to reach high- level positions, even more so than their white female peers. The study shows how 48% of women of colour said they desired to be a top executive, compared with 37% of white women.

Women, especially black women, are least likely to call their company an inclusive work place. They express feelings of frustration at their ability to be themselves at work. Participants pointed out that discussing race with their white male peers is difficult. Ms. Adams- Qualtiere, who has built an African- American networks across various industries advocates the need of more mentors to give women the opportunities to prove themselves.

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