The “Glass ceiling”
Lisa Weber never doubted that she would be a partner in her Wall Street firm. A graduate of a prestigious business school with a doctorate in economics, she had taught briefly at a major university. She was the first woman hired as a market analyst in her well-regarded firm. Within two years, she became one of four senior portfolio managers reporting directly to a senior partner. Her clients give her the highest commendations for her outstanding performance; over the past two years, she has brought in the largest number of new accounts to the firm.
Despite the admiration of her colleagues and their seeming acceptance of her, there is a disturbing, if flattering, aspect to her job. Most of her peers and some of the partners visit her office during the day to discuss in private her opinions on market performance and financial projections. She enjoys these private sessions but is dismayed that at the weekly staff meetings the CEO, Michael Breyer, usually says something like, “Okay, let’s get started and bring Lisa up to date on some of the trouble spots.” None of her peers or the partners mention that Lisa knows as much as they do about what’s going on in the firm. She never protests this slight to her competence and knowledge of firm business, nor does she mention the almostdaily private meetings where her advice is sought. As the only woman on the executive level, she prefers to be considered a team player and one of the boys.
In the past year, one of her peers has been promoted to partner, although Lisa’s performance clearly surpassed his, as measured by the success of her accounts and the amount of new business she brought to the firm. Having heard no mention of partnership for herself, she approached her boss, one of the partners, and asked about the path to a partnership. He replied, “You’re doing great, Lisa, but professors do not partners make. What happens if you are a partner and you make a huge mistake? How would you take it? And what about our clients? There’s never been a female partner in the 103 years of our firm.” Shortly thereafter, another woman, Pamela Tobias, was hired as a marketing analyst. Once, when the CEO saw Lisa and Pamela together, he called out to the men, “Hey, guys, two women in one room. That’s scary.” During the next six months, Lisa meets several times with the CEO to make her case for a partnership on the basis of her performance. She finally realizes that there is no possibility of change in the foreseeable future and decides to leave and form her own investment firm.
What advancement barriers did Lisa encounter?
The improbability of Lisa’s promotion in the organization is determined by several factors contributing to the “Glass Ceiling” metaphor indictments. First of all, Lisa seems to lack assertiveness and decisiveness in establishing a respectful attitude towards her work accomplishments among male colleagues. According to Northouse (2018), such a trait is expected gender behavior disrupting women’s carrier advancement. Moreover, the book author claims that “negotiations needed to ascend the leadership hierarchy often are unstructured, ambiguous, and rife with gender triggers” (Northouse, 2018, p. 582). In the case of Lisa, the prejudices of her CEO eliminates the effectiveness of negotiations a priori. Additionally, high officers tend to have higher demands for women when considering their applications for leadership (Kubu, 2017). Liza’s performance exceeds this of other workers; still, the CEO stresses her inability to handle the job. Therefore, Liza’s attempts to promote herself are futile due to gender differences, prejudice in the organization, and discrimination.
What should the firm’s top executives, including Michael, have done differently to retain Lisa?
The one suitable solution to the problem could be fair treatment of the workers regardless of their gender. The colleagues of Liza should have valued her professional skills and achievements and openly confirm her attributions to their work. As such, the use of Liza’s pieces of advice is immense, yet the workers ignored these contributions at the meetings. Instead, they should have mentioned that some topics had already been discussed or even resolved due to Liza’s help. The repeatedly invoked explanations of the current situation in the company were clearly offensive. Furthermore, the male colleagues made offensive jokes based on the gender identity of female co-workers, which probably perpetuated unpleasant feelings in Liza. Additionally, the position of Liza’s boss was discriminatory, so it would be better if he had evaluated his workers by their efforts to make his opinion about the promotion. Hence, the workers needed to be respectful to their female colleague to retain her in the organization.
What type of organizational policies and opportunities might have benefited Lisa and Pamela?
After conducting considerable research on the topic of inequality in the workplace, scholars proposed various solutions to the problem. Northouse (2018) enumerates several levels of resolving the issue in organizations, many of which are applicable for Liza’s office. For example, the organization might incorporate the policy of diversified staff, demonstrating that women are equipped with skills for leadership positions. Along with this, education for the workers is required to bring awareness of gender stereotypes and the harm of prejudices as well as benefits from having women in the team. Finally, a program aimed at enhancing the career development of female start would affect the approaches towards the advancement of Liza and Pamela positively. Thus, the organization should acquire courses for improving interpersonal relationships between workers, guide females in growth, and diversify the staff.
What could the organization do to raise the gender consciousness of Michael and Lisa’s male colleagues?
As was mentioned earlier, courses on gender intolerance would develop better relationships between males and females in the company. To decrease gender stereotypes, professionals in the field should explain to men and women the source, origin, and consequences of prejudices. Next, the explanation should contain quantifiable data and results of researchers to demonstrate the capabilities of women effectively while highlighting the critical factors of misjudgment. Additionally, women should receive the ability to report discrimination cases so that men would attain additional information based on their actions. The training should consider the use of language, puns, behaviors toward women that provoke disparities in the workplace. In brief, the organization should hire a specialist to educate the staff and create possibilities for women to react to abuse.
Conduct your own research online into what other organizations are doing to address gender issues.
Nowadays, guaranteeing gender equality in the workplace is obligatory for U. S. organizations. Facebook, an international company, includes numerous programs for fighting the disparities and providing comfortable labor conditions not only for women but various devalued minorities as well. For instance, the company has a short online guide, “Managing Bias,” for its workers and clients to clarify the different types of prejudice (Managing Bias – Diversity, 2021). Another organization, Abbott, encourages women in “networking, talent recruitment and recognition and participation in key industry events,” a part of the large-scale diversity program (Diversity and Inclusion, 2021, para. 13). Such an endeavor allows female workers to recognize their value a d develop professionally, acquiring skills for leadership. Furthermore, the Bank of America managed to organize the Global Ambassadors Program that gathers women from around the work for mentorship and network, enabling them to enter new possibilities (Celebrating a decade of advancing women leaders, 2021). Accordingly, the various firms adapted their policies and introduced effective programs to help female workers excel in leadership.
Have you any personal experiences which may give you a different perspective on the situation described in the case-study?
At my workplace, I observed a situation where a woman could not promote because of her values rather than her surroundings. Precisely, my colleague, a manager among the team mainly consisting of men, was highly esteemed by the office. The boss even offered her a promotion since she has shown to be beneficial for the firm. However, she refused the proposition multiple times because of her conservative views. She was a mother and wanted to bring all her efforts to bringing up her children instead of moving up the career ladder. Thus, this experience demonstrates that women sometimes may not be promoted not because of the environment undervaluing them but because of their own beliefs.
Diversity and Inclusion. (2021) Web.
Celebrating a decade of advancing women leaders. (2021) Web.
Managing Bias – Diversity. (2021) Web.
Kubu, C. (2017) ‘Who does she think she is? Women, leadership and the ‘B’(ias) word’, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 32(2), pp.235-251.
Northouse, P. (2018) Leadership: Theory and Practice. 8th ed. SAGE Publications, pp.576-591.