Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling — It is Possible, Right?

I read an article this week about a recent report revealing that women face gender discrimination from the beginning of their careers — not necessarily when they reach the executive level. So, the thought of even reaching the C suite or breaking through the glass ceiling is still a huge challenge.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but reflect on my company, a 2008 Catalyst Award recipient, thinking about what we do to help ensure that not only women, but also all employees have the opportunities to develop and advance their careers. And a part of that is understanding the important role diversity and inclusion plays as a strategic business imperative. Sure, we haven’t perfected our approach, but I do feel good about what we’re doing and the direction in which we’re headed when it comes to advancing women in the company. And, we continuously focus on improving in this area. What are we doing?

Here’s a quick overview of the strategies we’ve implemented over the past few years:

  1. Talent reviews – regular assessments to identify top talent, including identifying training and development needs and opportunities for job rotation.
  2. External Coaches – an opportunity for new leaders and newly promoted leaders to partner with an external executive/professional coach who can assist them with the assimilation into their new role.
  3. Mentoring Advantage – a formal mentoring program that encourages employee development through relationships built with experienced professionals across functions, business units and geographies.
  4. Creating Your Career Strategy – a workshop open to all employees that combines career training and coaching to assist them in creating an actionable plan.
  5. Owning Your Professional Development – a course that provides career development training for emerging leaders. The heads of various business units nominate the employees who participate in the course.
  6. Career Frontier – a tool that offers a searchable database of open positions. It allows employees to create a job search agent that immediately notifies them when a new position opens that meets their qualifications or career goals.
  7. Employee Resource Groups – we have five, one of which is devoted to women.
  8. Valuing Individuals – a mandatory course designed to develop managerial and career development skills for all managers and supervisors.

At the end of the day, I believe you have to own your career – take initiative, network, and look for opportunities in areas where you may not even think they exist. However, without making certain resources and tools available to employees, how can they advance in today’s corporations?

Think about what the report reveals — that there are still speed bumps and limitations early on for women in their careers. What is your company doing to change this? If you have a story about your experience elevating to the C suite, please share it with me.

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