The concept of a single glass ceiling is an outdated model and no longer reflects the realities of modern working life for women, according to the results of a poll by Ernst & Young.
The survey of 1,000 UK working women between the ages of 18 – 60 revealed that two thirds believe they faced multiple barriers throughout their careers, rather than just a single ceiling on entry to the boardroom.
Based on the results, Ernst & Young identified four key barriers to career progression for today’s working women. These barriers are: age, lack of role models, motherhood, and qualifications and experience. Also, the barriers aren’t chronological and can be experienced at anytime; often several at once. And while they aren’t exclusive to women, it believes it is clear from the research that employers need to provide better support to help women overcome them.
Said Liz Bingham, Ernst & Young’s managing partner for people: “The focus around gender diversity has increasingly been on representation in the boardroom and this is still very important. But the notion that there is a single glass-ceiling for women, as a working concept for today’s modern career, is dead.
“Professional working women have told us they face multiple barriers on their rise to the top. As a result, British business is losing its best and brightest female talent from the pipeline before they have even had a chance to smash the glass ceiling.”
Delving into the findings behind the barriers, the survey identified age – perceived as either too young or too old – as being the biggest obstacle that women faced during their careers. While 32 per cent of women questioned said it had impacted on their career progression to date, another 27 per cent said they thought it would inhibit their progression in the future.
Interestingly, it was women in the early stages of their career that seemed to be most acutely impacted – with half of all respondents between 18 and 23 saying age had been a barrier they’d already encountered in their career.
When respondents were asked to identify what three things their organisations could do to remove the barriers, or better support women’s career progression, the top answers were:
· More support after returning to work from having children (32 per cent)
· More support at every stage of my career lifecycle (24 per cent)
· More visible female role models (19 per cent).
When asked the same question in relation to what government could do, they said:
· Enforcing companies to reveal the ‘pay gap’ between men and women (45 per cent)
· Affordable child-care/ tax relief for childcare (43 per cent)
· Policy guidance on flexible working for UK businesses (28 per cent).