The glass ceiling is widely regarded as one of the major challenges for women in business. The concept is fairly straightforward. An invisible ceiling exists in many corporate environments, creating a barrier between women and high-level positions that tend to be dominated by males in leadership roles. Women have been shattering this boundary for years and, as society has evolved, the strength and role of the glass ceiling may be changing.
This issue was a major theme in our 2018 Comerica Bank Women's Business Symposium, as the event focuses on bringing women together to discuss the gender-related barriers they face in their professional lives, offer advice to one another, and develop strategies for empowerment and support. As these conversations unfolded, it became clear that the glass ceiling may be broken and, if it isn't, it's not as strong as it once was.
The state of the glass ceiling
Opinions on how much the glass ceiling impacts the corporate world today can vary based on a variety of circumstances, but there's an overarching theme that this roof is starting to crack.
"There's no limitations," Ivette Mayo, an author, consultant and business coach, said at the Detroit event. "As long as you believe it, you can do it. I think that fear is something that we all have … You need to stop believing in fear and start saying, 'I am anticipating what is to come.'"
While Mayo believes that women need to work to move past fear as the opportunities are present, she also highlighted that women can support and advocate for one another. To some degree, this can be done through the power of choice and making concerted efforts to work with other women, such as in vendor relationships.
While Mayo's statements implied that the glass ceiling is weakening, as there are opportunities for women to push past fear that may arise in the workplace and support one another, Dr. Shawne Duperon, who has founded or led a variety of organizations, spoke even more specifically on the issue.
"I'm past the conversation [about women supporting women]. In my world, we do. Women support each other; we're powerhouses. We're past women supporting women. We're just people supporting people. It's so cool to see that shift from breaking the glass ceiling—not to say that it isn't going on—but we're doing better than we ever have. The circles that I run in, we support each other. We support women, we support people of all different races and colors and creeds and genders and sexual orientations. We're all in this together."