Glass ceiling — the term defined as “an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions.” Initially coined by Marilyn Loden, who joined a panel at the 1978 Women’s Exposition in New York, it spoke to the barriers women experience in the workplace. It’s been more than 40 years since the term’s origination, but it remains relevant today. Now is the time to rethink it, soar even higher, and imagine new possibilities.
Deloitte Global recently noted in their edition of Women in the Boardroom that only 5% of women are in positions with the CEO title, accounting for only a slight increase of 0.6% since 2018. Furthermore, a McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace report found that for every 100 men that are promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted. Outdated societal norms and biases have long impacted women reaching positions of leadership, but it’s time to call in a new way of thinking — a way that eradicates the glass ceiling and allows women to break through their own barriers, not just the barriers they’re met with. So, how can the ICT industry and the workplaces that exist within it help not just shatter the glass ceiling we’ve all come to know but create a new one, one with unlimited possibilities and potential?
Creating Awareness to Create Support
The data center industry is still coming up short when it comes to the inclusion of women, with a recent report from Uptime Institute finding that 10% or less are in the industry’s workforce. The work to shift that narrative isn’t just on the shoulders of companies in this space, everyone must play a part in educating and evangelizing why the data center space is a great place to be right now.
Here are three ways that companies and you can help close the inequality gap, including those wanting to help shatter the glass ceiling and move into leadership roles:
- Start a diversity, equity, and inclusion employee resource group. It helps bring minorities together to create a meaningful DE&I strategy and set of deliverables that will formally propel not just women but everyone into more leadership roles by aligning them not only with company goals but their own goals. This provides a path and ladder that extends many rungs past any previously set ceilings or barriers of entry.
- Enable your team, and offer yourself or your peers by providing opportunities for mentorship and growth. Professional development is key to making room for women to enter into leadership positions. Additionally, creating spaces, whether it be an internal working group or external network, where women can feel comfortable and empowered to pursue their wants and needs. Allyship is a crucial component of this. Men can play a significant role in guiding and mentoring women and shouldn’t be left out of the equation.
- It’s been said that women don’t need to find their voice (they have it) but to be encouraged and empowered to use their voices. The Workforce Institute at UKG reported that a staggering 85% of employees don’t feel heard in their organizations. If someone doesn’t feel heard, to begin with, how do we expect them to find the courage to speak up? Women especially short change themselves, hesitating before asking for a raise, with 60% of women never negotiating their salary, as reported by Randstad USA. Collectively, if we become better at listening, then it sets the stage for new ideas and positive change.
- Be an ally. Allyship means making the conscious decision to understand, empathize, and act in support of others. Men are already at the tables women want to be at, so by standing up and becoming a champion of the women around them, they help that table expand.
- Go external. As women speak at as many industry events, impart your experience of the industry and the potential it has at graduate fairs or school leaver evenings. To capture and enthuse the minds of the young will in turn pave the way to closing the future skills gap quicker. The young women are the future of our board rooms.
Ultimately, companies and industry veterans owe it to those wanting to join the industry or excel in a company to provide and participate in the culture, practices, platforms, strategy, initiatives, and space to enable growth, acceleration, and achieve the desired dreams and roles. Whether it’s joining the data center industry or becoming a manager, director, or C-level executive, it’s time to get on board or climb the ladder to the glass ceiling, shatter it, and never look back to building a new foundation of equality.
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