Could you imagine being limited by something that has nothing to do with your skill or ability? If you look at the leadership positions of many of the world’s top companies, you will find few women occupying them. This contrast can also be related to the role of African American people in companies. It is very apparent when one contemplates the number of Black CEOs versus White leaders. Something is preventing them from reaching the top. Examples of this can be found in The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Hayley. Although many people believe racial discrimination is mostly a thing of the past, it is still prominent as an invisible barrier in one of the most prominent areas of life: the workplace.
The term “glass ceiling” was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe “the apparent barriers that prevent women from reaching the top of the corporate hierarchy” (Women in business). Today, it is applied to all instances of discrimination preventing advancement in a career. Business Training defines it as “A phrase used to describe an invisible barrier to promotion. It can also be seen as an all encompassing opportunity on the surface, when in reality the ‘Glass Ceiling’ is hit and growth or promotion stops.” African Americans face many problems in the workplace, including: obstacles in employment, promotion and advancement difficulties, channeling into “minority” positions, and lack of access to network and mentors (Queralt).
Discrimination encountered in the employment process accounts for a noticeable difference in job status between Caucasian and African American professionals (Laseter). For example, persons tasked with hiring new employees often harbor judgments and stereotypes about African Americans that contribute to their ignoring of qualifications and skills, hiring them only for low-level, low-paying jobs. Two independent studies conducted in Washington, D.C. in 1985 show interesting differences in employment levels of college-educated Caucasians and African Americans. Both studies discovered that it is more difficult for college-educated African Americans to secure employment, and that discrimination is the major underlying factor (Beauchamp and Bowie). Also, a study conducted by the Urban Institute (Turner, Fix and Struyk) found that African Americans experience discrimination in one-fifth of job searches. To test for bias in the employment process, equally qualified and identically dressed men of both races applied to 476 entry-level jobs in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Caucasian applicants were able to submit an application in 20 percent of the cases in which an African American was not. Also, it was found that the level of discrimination rose as the job level increased (Turner, Fix and Struyk). Many employers believed that young African American men were immoral, lazy, did not want to work, and were not as intelligent as Caucasian men (Chidea).
Once employed, in many cases an African American will experience advancement...