It may be invisible, but the glass ceiling is real for many women in corporate America, especially for women of color. These women reach a certain stage in their career and their upward projection is hindered. But as more and more women enter the corporate arena, some are finding ways to either shatter the ceiling or get around it.
"I have women come to me all the time who are working in corporate or other sectors and feel like they have hit a glass ceiling in their careers and want to start a business. I always tell them to break through it. It's glass. Glass can be broken," says business coach JeFreda Brown, CEO of Goshen Business Group, LLC, which offers financial and business compliance consulting.
Saying you can break the glass ceiling is one thing, doing it is another. A plan is necessary. "Sit down and make a list of all of the things you have accomplished. Then, make a list of all of the problems you see around you and ways you can provide solutions to those problems. There are ways around the glass ceiling. You just have to put forth the effort. Make the decision to stay and fight or leave and start your own business," explains Brown.
"Have a dream and a goal, and make sure you are working towards your personal career goals along with the company's goals for you. Focus on your dreams and stop from time-to-time to regroup," transformational trainer and New York Times bestselling author M. Bridget Cook-Burch, CEO, Inspired Legacy, LLC. agrees. "First of all, is this still what you want? It's okay to shift, but don't settle -- and you know exactly what I mean by that, ladies. When you stop periodically to take stock, you'll also step back and take a look at the company from a different perspective, as well as your role within it. You'll discover ceilings long before they have any power to bind you."
A glass ceiling doesn't have to stop you. You have more power than you think over your own career. "Remember, you always are at choice. It's very empowering for women to take a look at all of the choices they have. Most of what a glass ceiling for women includes is a mental fog at feeling dis-empowered, and that you are simply not going anywhere. Look at the choices you DO have, and that puts the power right back where it belongs -- in your hands," advises Cook-Burch.
Examine your options is you want to get around the glass ceiling. "There are ALWAYS ways around a glass ceiling, if you choose. including things such as, a). looking elsewhere, b). approaching the boss and letting her or him know you are looking elsewhere to see if they want to raise that ceiling, c). proposing a new income stream for the company and what your role and rewards with it could be, d). starting your own business," says Cook-Burch. "One other empowering choice? Take a look at a business board position or a non-profit board position, and be a contribution. Not only can it network you to further success, you will feel and know your additional skills and talents and abilities are not being wasted."
Brown chose one of these options when she herself hit a glass ceiling while working in the federal government. She had applied for a different position that not only gave her a bump in pay but also allowed her to work from home more often. Her male supervisor worked against her, basically told her she was unfit for the role, and gave her such a bad evaluation that she didn't even make the pool of applicants for the job. Brown took the issue to her company's EEO department. But when nothing was done, she decided to level. She choice not only to resign but to also venture out on her own.
But since the glass seeing is invisible it may sometimes be difficult to detect. Be aware of the movements within your company. "There are two ways [to tell if there is a glass ceiling]: One, is when others, especially men, are still rising around you. It may be more real than you think, and you get to be the pathfinder and the lightbearer of that company, or go your way so your abilities are acknowledged," explains Cook-Burch. "Or, two, when you are personally feeling like there is nowhere for you to go within that company (salary or otherwise) and you can tell your talents are being wasted and you feel incomplete at that thought."