The Glass Ceiling & The Sticky Floor

The Glass Ceiling and the Sticky Floor

No matter where you are in the world, it seems women have a tough time climbing the ranks in management. There are barriers in front of them from the moment they enter such a role. Some of the barriers are “historical,” having been part of the way companies operate since they began. Others are more social and reflect an unconscious bias in people and processes.

The glass ceiling.

This difficulty in gaining promotion is called the “glass ceiling,” meaning that while women can see where they want to go, they have reached as far as they are allowed to go in the management hierarchy.

There is another factor holding women back in their careers. Can you guess what it is?

The sticky floor.

It’s ourselves. Yes, we women are very capable when it comes to imposing limitations on ourselves and staying in the same old jobs where we’re safe and comfortable. That’s called the ‘sticky floor.’ We are stuck in the one place and can’t get out.

In my opinion, the sticky floor is much more of a problem than the glass ceiling. It’s true that until we shatter that glass ceiling, there will be few female role models to follow. However, I believe we first need to free ourselves from the sticky floor, so we can tackle the glass ceiling in greater numbers.

Escaping the sticky floor.

I don’t want to turn this into a self-help article; I’m sure you’ve all read articles about how to boost your self-belief and how to move out of your comfort zone. You probably don’t want to hear it all again. But women won’t get ahead until we deal with the sticky floor problem. Until we’re free of that floor, there’s no way we’ll be able to start bumping into that glass ceiling.

So how do we do it? We draw on our natural talent.

Collaborate and encourage.

Women are naturals when it comes to working together and including people in activities. Now’s the time to use those abilities to get us all off the sticky floor.

As individuals, most of us aren’t great at seeing what we do well. We’re also pretty poor at self-promotion. What we are great at, though, is applauding others and drawing attention to their successes. THIS is what we should be doing.

Just imagine what might happen if we all consciously made the effort to praise another woman each day; to make sure she’s aware of her achievements, and she’s proud of herself.

Just imagine what might happen if we all spoke up about the talents and successes of our female peers to make sure our managers know and remember.

Just imagine what might happen if we start speaking up about what we do well.

If you do these things often enough and in a structured and authentic way, we’ll start thinking differently about ourselves.

And if you happen to be in a high-level role, remember to “send the elevator back down.”

We are starting to see women in top-level roles, but there are still not enough of them. If we work together, rather than as individuals, we have a much better chance of escaping the sticky floor and shattering that glass ceiling.

Can I count on you?


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I am a Mum, business founder, author and accomplished CEO with over 20 years’ experience in the corporate world. My childhood dream was to become a fighter pilot, but when that didn’t materialise, I found my place in the corporate world, climbing the sales and marketing ladder to my role as CEO of Cox & Kings Australia.

I'm the founder of Empowering Ambitious Women, I've led start-ups to companies with annual revenues from $55 million to more than $250 million. My role as CEO of Australia’s leading franchise network of professional builders saw me as a pioneer in the industry; as a female CEO leading a large franchise home building company.

I was formally recognised twice by the Telstra Business Women's Awards my achievements in business.

As a woman who became one of the 16% of female CEOs, and who has led in male-dominated industries, I’m passionate about creating pathways for women leaders to step up, take a seat at the table and own it.

I love; French champagne, socialising, dining out and having an impact...

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