Glass Ceiling – Thing of the Past?

Although it has been almost 30 years since the Wall Street Journal coined the term ‘glass ceiling’ and legislation was introduced to stop discrimination, gender equality in the workplace is still a hot topic particularly in the corporate world.

The Glass Ceiling refers to an unofficial barrier to progression in a profession, despite possessing equal skills and qualifications. A survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) found that 73% of female managers believe barriers to advancement still exist.

What do the statistics say?
Just eight women hold senior management roles in the UK’s top 50 firms despite females dominating the profession at entry level – The Lawyer

In the UK only 32% of parliament is female – UK political info

In the UK a man starting his career in a corporate role is 4.5 times more likely to reach Executive Level than his female counterpart – KPMG

In Banking, only 11% of corporate managers and senior executives are women – Equality and Human Rights Commission

Female partners at London law firms typically receive 24% less compensation than their male counterparts a study has revealed

“Whilst women make up 50% of the UK workforce, just 32% of managers and 28% of senior executives are female” – ILM

These statistics suggest that professional barriers for women still exist. Despite many suggesting that change is happening and that women’s presence in leadership roles is increasing, it is just not fast enough.

“The percentage of women in senior leadership roles has remained low, slightly rising to 22% in 2018 – Grant Thornton, Women in Business 2018

But what is holding women back? It would seem that one of the biggest problems is a lack of awareness amongst managers and executives and potential denial over the existence of glass ceiling in their organisation. The ILM found that 31% of men at junior levels believed there was a glass ceiling for women in their organisation. Only 23% of men in management roles agree.  How can a problem be tackled if so few people in a position of power acknowledge it?  The first steps are awareness and acknowledgement.

At OPM Consulting our team are experienced in dealing with a range of issues relating to women in the workplace. We offer Women Leadership Development Programs as well as a range of Training Workshops covering: Negotiation Skills, Personal Impact and Assertiveness, How to Have Constructive Conversations and many more.  For more information or to discuss women’s development in your organisation please contact us on or call 0845 544 2729 . Also feel free to email comments and suggestions, and don’t forget to share!

Working with OPM has been a great experience. OPM Associates are incredibly talented and responsive, willing to be flexible to meet our changing needs. Feedback from our staff and managers is always positive, in particular how well OPM Associates have been able to overcome difficult challenges and provide inspiration to others.

Anna Petts, Assistant Director,
Organisational Development & Learning at London Business School

January 20, 2020