The glass ceiling in corporate American may be showing a few cracks, but it is still firmly in place, according to studies.
Women of Color in Corporate Management: Opportunities and Barriers, a 1999 report prepared by Catalyst, a nonprofit research and advisory organization working to advance women of color in business. Looks at the challenges facing over 1,700 female managers of color. A follow-up study published in 2002, Women of Color in Corporate Management: Three Years Later, updates the careers of selected survey participants.
The respondents surveyed for the 2002 report say they believe opportunities for women of their racial/ethnic background to advance to senior leadership positions within their organizations have declined over the last three years. This is despite projected sharp increases in the number of women in the workforce. The 1999 report estimate that by the year 2006 the number of African American, Hispanic, and Asian American women in the workforce will grow by 35%, 78%, and 225%, respectively. The number of Caucasian women is expected to grow byt close to 10%, and the number of white men in the workforce is expected to decline by 17%.
Katherine Giscombe, Ph.D., senior director of research for Catalyst, points out that there is some good news. In the 2002 survey, which involved the same women as the first survey, 57% of the respondents had been promoted at least once and were making about 40% more money on average since the first report was published. “I would say that women of color have made progress over the last three years, but more progress has to be made, and it’s up to companies to change their culture and make it more amenable to women of color,” she says.
According to Giscombe, one fo the reasons the glass ceiling remains intact is because the commitment of corporate CEOs toward the advancement of minority women meets little follow-through a the middle management level. One solution, says Giscombe, is to make sure diversity objectives are integrated into the overall business, and that managers are held accountable for carrying out diversity efforts.