Evidence of a Glass Ceiling
There is certainly evidence of a “glass ceiling” in my workplace. In my organization, not a single member of the senior leadership is a woman. While there is plenty of advancement among women within the ranks of middle management, it is quite telling that none of them rise to the level senior vice president, president, CEO, etc.
Of course, these senior leadership positions are not open very often, but when they are the company needs to make a concerted effort to locate viable female candidates. It seems that currently the organization is content to hire for these positions from the available candidate pool, regardless of its demographic makeup. It would send a very positive message throughout the organization and externally if the company affirmatively recruited a pool of candidates in which there is adequate representation by women and minorities. This does not mean that a woman must be selected if she is not most qualified, but rather than an effort must be made to bring in qualified female candidates. The next time there is an opening within the senior leadership, the employees at large should draft a petition demanding this kind of affirmative action.
If women and minorities had access to equal pay and opportunities for advancement, everyone would benefit in some way primarily because it would be truly just. When people are treated differently because of their gender or skin color, it sets up a severely unethical system that ultimately harms everyone in an organization, and contributes to the harm of society at large. Even if white men currently earn more on average than women and minorities, they are not really benefiting, particularly since the expectation is not that their pay would be reduced, but rather that the pay of women and minorities be increased in order to achieve equality. Real justice ultimately benefits everyone, and so there are no stakeholders who would not benefit.
I once attended a business lunch with clients from the Far East. Their kinesics – or communication through nonlinguistic gestures – included bowing upon greeting and departure, and a non-expressive style that made their mood difficult to read. These nonverbal indicators of communication made the interaction somewhat uncomfortable as I was never certain whether I was acting appropriately and in a way that would not offend. Although they spoke English, the cultural differences reflected in their nonverbal communication posed a barrier to effective communication.
Individuals speaking the same language can often confront cultural barriers to communication. This happens when a person’s verbal or nonverbal communication is misinterpreted due to the cultural influences on the manner in which it is conveyed. For example, a Japanese person and an American, both speaking English, could encounter barriers to communication when the Japanese person perceives a slight based on a failure to bow or a business style of her American counterpart that is perceived as overly outgoing and aggressive.
Language patterns manifest themselves in culturally specific thought processes by reflecting the influences and constrictions of culture within those patterns and processes. For example, orientation to problem solving and organization can be affected by the extent to which language patterns are influenced by a cultural propensity to be quiet and reserved or outwardly open and aggressive. The former type of cultural influence would arguably produce a far different approach to problem solving and organization than would the latter.