Blog Articles By Topic
It’s common knowledge that employers and management teams see value in professionals who show up with a “can-do” spirit. But there’s more to being successful than just a positive attitude. It’s grit that other leaders appreciate. What is Grit? “Grit” refers to a person’s mental fortitude, in other words, their endurance and desire to pursue […]
You’ve been promoted. Or, maybe, you’re starting a new job at a new company. Either way, you have a fresh start– and a new set of challenges. Becoming the boss, it sounds exciting, it sounds challenging, it sounds frightening, and it comes with a variety of new responsibilities. You are moving from being responsible for […]
When you’re new to the professional world, it can be difficult to find your footing and the skills you need to have to progress. A mentor can help to guide you with experience and professional advice – building that connection could make all the difference in your advancement. What is a Mentor? A mentor is […]
A boundary is a figurative line an individual draws that makes the limits of what they will and won’t tolerate. Healthy boundaries directly improve your mental, physical, or emotional well-being and develop respect in the workplace. Setting Boundaries at Work To set healthy boundaries, you need to be aware of what you expect from other […]
Fostering high-quality women’s leadership opportunities should be a key goal for many organizations, especially those that are trying to bring diversity to their management teams. In today’s business climate, diversity is of utmost importance in the workplace. Despite the emphasis placed on diversifying leadership teams, the recent pandemic and its effects on the work environment […]
As many of you know, I like words, their meanings, and their use. And for those of you hearing me for the first time, I believe that words matter, so when I began the process of formulating my thoughts on the “inspiration,” I went to the dictionary. That is what I do. The definition that […]
Giving yourself time to recharge mentally, physically, and emotionally after a stressful week is a must. For some working professionals, though, it can be challenging to direct themselves toward an enjoyable activity. If you’re looking for new ways to engage in something you’ll enjoy while also maximizing your time, try these options. Read a Book […]
Working towards a goal is always a good decision, but it’s important to examine whether you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to focus on self-development. The Importance of Investing in Yourself Investing in yourself involves a system of processes that aim to improve some facet of your life. There are plenty of different […]
No matter where you are in your career, you’re aware of the challenges many women face as they try to advance their career into senior management. That’s why this initiative, which asks companies to sign a pledge to fast-track women’s progress up the corporate ladder, is a step in the right direction. Started by Frustrated […]
Want a way to close the pay gap in your own company? Pay transparency is one way. Yes, it can certainly pit employees against each other, but it could also be the answer to closing the pay gap between men and women. Citigroup, the fourth largest bank, just revealed that women earn 29% less than […]
Women in the World
The business world is not a fair playing field for everyone, despite all the progress made surrounding work relations in the past century. If you’ve overheard discussions about disadvantages professional women deal with at work, or you’ve experienced these issues yourself, you probably want to know why.
What is the Broken Rung?
You may have heard the term “glass ceiling” in the past, a term that refers to an invisible barrier that prevents many women from being promoted to high corporate positions.
The “broken rung” is a more updated version of this phenomenon. It replaces the old “glass ceiling” and more accurately describes the experiences women have in the professional world. The barrier starts influencing opportunities to excel far earlier than the last jump to a corporate-level position. The idea of a broken rung applies to the “corporate ladder” in general, and a broken rung creates an incredible (and dangerous) climbing challenge.
Rather than the barrier existing high up in “the glass ceiling,” obstacles start getting in the way right from the beginning.
The Broken Rung Disproportionately Affects Women
The existence of the broken rung metaphor affects women as a result of management biases. Individuals who oversee evaluating employees and offering promotions tend to prioritize men in the workplace over women, even when both promotion candidates are equally qualified. In some cases, even if the female candidate has more qualifications, the male candidate will still be chosen by management.
In fact, women only account for 38% of managerial positions across an array of industries.
Unfortunately, the biases women deal with in the workplace are not always apparent, as management teams may not even be aware of the unfair behaviors taking place. Many of us don’t recognize our own implicit biases – this is known as “unconscious bias” and it’s actively oppressing women’s leadership efforts today.
And, when no measures exist to question motives and address these biases, they continue to affect the way people think and behave unchecked.
The Gender Gap
With men holding 62% of leadership positions, they are more often in the position to offer promotions and secure new hires. This is where unconscious bias becomes an issue. According to one study, male managers are five times more likely to choose another man for a promotion than they are to choose a woman. On top of that, men who are seeking promotions or higher-level positions tend to favor the idea of being promoted or hired by a male manager. This is known as “cognitive evaluation” – people are naturally more inclined towards people who look and act like them because they are more comfortable, assuming they already understand the person who is like them as opposed to someone who seems different at initial evaluation.
You can see how this creates a barrier for women trying to move up – the odds created by bias, conscious or unconscious, are stacked against them. And without support to overcome this missing link from entry level into management, it becomes exceedingly difficult to rise through the rest of the ranks.
What Can You Do?
For leaders who want to play an active role in repairing the broken rung, bias training is a must. Training procedures need to effectively show participants how to identify and correct discriminatory beliefs and processes.
Furthermore, once participants adopt new thought processes and procedural techniques, management teams need to be willing to address and correct behaviors pointed out to them.
To be effective, bias training needs to use facts and data to highlight workplace inequalities, explain the concept of unconscious bias, discuss ways these preconceptions influence decision-making, and provide advice for monitoring and evaluating current and future systems at work.
And it is imperative to make clear – the point of bias training is not to blame management for their biases but to teach them how to recognize them and take steps to actively change gears. And the training needs to be an open and inclusive group effort – it cannot be set up as an ‘us’ against ‘them’ scenario.
In simple terms, it aims to:
- Identify an issue
(“This problem exists and we didn’t know about it before,”)
- Address the causes/effects
(“It has led to X, Y, and Z problems and it needs to change,”)
- Pursuing solutions
(“How are we going to avoid making the same mistakes again?”)
Laying out the goal in this way and focusing on setting new actionable intentions doesn’t place blame on anyone. Instead, it presents an opportunity for EVERYONE to improve.
Approaching a challenge with maturity and an open mind is the best way to overcome the hardships brought on by biases existing in the workplace. Only taking steps toward change will lead to progress.
If women must work twice as hard in the workplace, women of color must work twice as hard as that – and even then it may not be enough. Workplace discrimination is still prominent today, keeping success out of reach for many in the minority. Brenda Harrington, author of “Access Denied: Addressing Workplace Disparities and Discrimination” takes the opportunity to examine and bring forward the stories of people of color, including herself, who have been victimized by personal and procedural bias and outright discrimination in their careers. From insensitive comments and discouragement to blatant attempted career decimation and gaslighting, the systematic bias in today’s professional space continues to hold back people of color.
The true recollections of injustice in each chapter speak to readers with similar experiences who face these inequalities and are brushed off, told not to be offended, or said their experience was not how they lived it. Brenda says you are not alone, and you are not crazy! This experience is shared by many. But you are not powerless – Brenda says, “we cannot change the hearts and minds of those with biases that do not favor us, but we can make choices to better protect and advocate for ourselves and each other.”
Throughout the book, Brenda provides important strategies for overcoming the many roadblocks people of color face in the workplace to this day. Each chapter provides personal proof of workplace discrimination, lessons to be taken away, and thought prompts to help guide the reader through these challenges.
“Access Denied,” is a powerful read for any professional, but especially for those outside the dominant groups. The practical advice and strategies come from real experience, and the author’s own expertise, and aim to make a difference in the professional journey of the reader and offer perspective for those not facing the same challenges. Overall, it is a great read for any professional today.