#MinorityWomenLEAD | Let’s Talk About Breaking Barriers in 2020

When discussing the challenges women face in the workplace, some acknowledge that many barriers are placed to block their upward mobility into leadership positions. Women— and especially women of color— have to push themselves to “climb the ladder” to the top, but even when they are able to climb that ladder, there is a “ceiling” blocking their path.


There are a variety of “ceilings” that women of color confront:

  • The “Glass ceiling” refers to the invisible barrier and obstacles that keep minorities from rising beyond a certain level of advancement, and from rising to high positions of power.

  • The “Bamboo ceiling” refers to the barriers and obstacles-Asian Americans specifically face in the workplace, including stereotypes and racism, that block their advancement.

  • The “Canvas ceiling” refers to the unseen challenges that refugees face in workforce integration. This is particularly difficult due to the complex factors that stand in their way including but not limited to: immigration regulations, language, qualifications, accreditation, education, and socio-political climates.

Ceilings are the commonly known barriers to advancement opportunities. However, one of the biggest obstacles women face is actually the “broken rung” of the ladder: the manager position. This is especially important, because managers are the first step in upward mobility, and the people selected to receive higher promotion opportunities.

According to McKinsey’s “Women in the Workplace” report in 2019:

  • While women in C-Suite leadership positions had increased by 24% since 2015, less than 5% of women in the general workplace were women of color.

  • About 1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman—and only 1 in 25 C-suite executives is a woman of color.

  • For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. Men end up holding 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38%.

When women are not placed in manager positions, they are often stuck at entry-level positions, hence the “broken rung” in the ladder of their upward mobility. Not only does this exclude them from conversations regarding wage disparity, but it can create an unconscious bias— keeping women at the bottom of the ladder and men at the top of the pyramid. Just as how it is important to have diverse representation in film and television, so too must the corporate workplace reflect equality and inclusion.


We have invited women leaders to speak on their own stories about "Climbing the Ladder and Lessons Learned" as part of our Minority Women Lead virtual conversation series this Friday, August 21. They will be sharing their experiences as leaders, the barriers they faced, and their advice for future generations.


Register today and read more about our panelists below:


Terrez Marriott Thompson, Vice President of Global Supplier Diversity for The Coca-Cola Company


“I have been allowed to focus us on truly integrating supplier diversity in the business and being true partners to business and procurement leaders.”