The three pillars of the glass ceiling

While it hasn’t been shattered, we are starting to see some cracks in the glass ceiling. What are the three pillars keeping it up?

The three pillars of the glass ceiling
The focus of analysis on gender imbalances in the corporate world is starting to shift, but we still have a way to go, a new study from KPMG has revealed.

KPMG’s study Winning hearts and minds – How CEOS talk about gender parity which found many CEOs to admit to the reason why women do not achieve decent representation in organisations due to management failure. However, competition for female talent and social expectations were also mentioned, demonstrating some viewpoints are yet to progress.

Broken down, these three pillars can each be analysed:
  1. Management failure
    Put simply, there’s a lack of focus on gender parity in many organisations. Time restraints placed on leaders can means the issue is ignored, but more often it’s a lack of management commitment. Some CEOs also said hiring teams allow unconscious bias seeping through. Curiously, the CEOs observed that women also tend to hire men, reflecting social norms influencing hiring decisions as well.
  2. Competition for female talent
    Pushing the onus back onto the female workforce, many CEOs also stated that recruiting women was a challenge due to the difficulties in finding talented, experienced and qualified women due to narrow pipelines and a small candidate pool of women with MBAs.
  3. Social expectations
    Social expectations placed on women was also viewed as a large restraint, as society still places a heavy expectation on women to ‘have it all’ by achieving work-life balance. Some CEOs also cited a lack of aspiration and confidence in women.
KPMG stated that these responses clearly demonstrate a continual lack of ability for many CEOs to deal with the deep-rooted social trends and expectations that continue to uphold the glass ceiling. However, the shift towards a focus on management failure demonstrates some progression.

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