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Female empowerment: how to avoid the glass ceiling in your company

What has prevented women from reaching positions of responsibility in companies until relatively recently? In most cases, the The absence of women leaders is not due to an express desire for men to monopolize positions of power, but to the predominance of a unconscious bias that creates a glass ceiling.

Women have always been associated with certain personal, work and social characteristics, and men with others. This has led to the belief that management positions were not suitable for women, or that many of them did not even want to occupy them. This is how a glass ceiling has been generated, a kind of invisible “wall” against which those who did want to continue advancing in their career have hit. A roof that, luckily, is beginning to crack more and more.

Are you applying a glass ceiling in your company even without being aware of it? Let's see how to detect it and what you can do in this case.

Table of Contents

What is the glass ceiling?

The glass ceiling is a phenomenon that refers to the invisible barrier that prevents women from reaching the highest levels of leadership in companiesand even at the political level. Despite the significant advances that have been made on gender equality in many countries, the glass ceiling remains a reality for many women around the world.

Its existence is due to a combination of cultural, social and structural factors, which prevent women from advancing in their careers. For example, cultural and gender expectations may limit a female professional's potential to lead in a male-dominated environment. On the other hand, the organizational structures can also be limiting, since the selection and promotion processes can be biased in favor of men.

Often, the glass ceiling is most pronounced at the highest levels of leadership, such as in CEO positions or on company boards. Statistics show that globally, only 7% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. In some countries, the problem is more accentuated, such as Japan, where only 3.7% of executive positions are women.

Overcoming this barrier is not only a matter of social justice, but also has economic benefits. It has been shown that the gender diversity in company management improves financial performance and increases innovation.


To overcome the glass ceiling, a commitment of the whole society to address gender bias and discrimination, and to implement policies and practices that promote equal opportunities for women. For their part, companies can work on creating inclusive organizational cultures, set gender diversity goals, and review their selection and promotion processes to eliminate gender bias.

Is there a glass ceiling in your company?

Maybe you think that equal opportunity in your business is given in a totally efficient way because, apparently, women have no problem getting promoted. No one is discriminated against when promoting because of their sex. Well then, we invite you to analyze the real data of your company and think about it again.

  • How many women hold management positions compared to the number of men who do?
  • Are there women on the board of directors? If so, how many?
  • How many women have promoted in the last year in your organization and how many men have?
  • On average, how long does it take a professional in your company to get promoted and how long does it take for men?

If your data demonstrates true gender equity, let us congratulate you, because you have achieved something that very few organizations do.

But chances are, by digging into the data, you've noticed things like you have far more male leaders than female leaders. or that the Professionals take two to three years longer to rise than men. 

You have discovered that in your company there is a glass ceiling that deprives a significant part of the workforce of true equal opportunities. It is time to get down to work to finish tearing down that invisible wall.

Effective solutions against the glass ceiling

End the pay gap

Fortunately, the vast majority of companies already apply the principle of equal pay and pay the same to those who do the same job, regardless of whether they are men or women.

However, the wage gap between female managers is higher than in lower labor strata. In other words, an executive is more likely to suffer salary inequality compared to a colleague who does the same job than a worker in a lower category.

Why is this happening? Because in the case of executives a a significant part of your salary is determined by bonuses that are rather subjective. Thus, the manager who offers total availability to travel, or who is available 24/7 for the company, is paid more.

Socially and culturally, women attach greater importance to reconciling personal and family life, so they tend not to accept this absolute availability, while many of their male partners do. The conclusion: they end up charging more.

However, if we continue to apply these types of plugins, we are acting against people, regardless of their sex. Why does a person, be it a man or a woman, have to give up spending time with their family? Or to have time for herself, and be available to her company every day at all hours, in exchange for charging more?

Ending this type of salary supplements, which are totally subjective, is one of the main measures to be taken to end the wage gap at all levels.

Promote conciliation policies

The possibility of teleworking o Having flexible hours greatly facilitates the reconciliation of personal and family life. However, reality shows us that Women are usually the ones who most benefit from this type of measures. They continue to be the ones who assume, for the most part, the role of caregivers and most of the household chores.

From the companies it must encourage the use of work-life balance measures among all employees. For example, if a worker has just become a father, after his paternity leave he can be reminded of all the measures available to him to be able to dedicate more time to his family.

Develop effective equality plans

For some years now, companies have been required to have an equality plan. One that includes the measures that apply to guarantee equal opportunities between men and women in employment.

Unfortunately, there are many cases in which this document is prepared for the sole purpose of fulfilling the legal obligation to have it and avoiding sanctions. Then it has no practical application.

Since companies have to invest time and money in equipping themselves with an equality plan, it would be much more efficient if they took the opportunity to put into practice what their internal document says. Thus they would achieve that equality was real, and not a mere piece of paper.

End hiring biases

Women often experience the effects of the glass ceiling even before they are hired. It is not only that it is more difficult for them to ascend but also, on many occasions, They have it more difficult to access a job.

The selection policy applied for decades has given rise to women, especially those who are of age to be mothers or already have children, go into the background, Preferring, under equal conditions, male candidates.

There is a rather marked bias operating here that must be ended. The ways to achieve this go through making a servant of blind resumes, and for ftrain recruiters to recognize their own biases and learn not to apply them.

We need to rewrite the work culture

Although changes can be seen, the prevailing work culture is still based on masculine expectations. For decades, men have been expected to progress in their jobs and be available to work around the clock, leaving the care of the family and home in the hands of women.

To break the glass ceiling, we have to first end the false belief that only men can meet certain expectations, while only women can meet others. If we understand that everyone has the right to develop their professional career as they wish, without this implying giving up their family and their domestic responsibilities, that ceiling that seemed so firm begins to crack little by little. So we verified that the old gender stereotypes were just that, stereotypes, and not realities.

There is still a long way to go to achieve real equal opportunities in the workplace. But companies hold the key in their hands so that things start to change more quickly and effectively.

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