Here’s a fact; less than 4% of CEOs among Fortune 500 companies are women. So what! Well, if you are the type that believes scientific research than you may be interested to know that there is a wealth of data suggesting that having women in the upper echelons of management and on Boards of companies adds greatly to the performance of the company and reduces their exposure to risk.
So women simply don’t take risks and keep the men in order, is that it? Certainly not. The research shows that there is not just a better gender balance when women play a more substantive role in running a company but better decision making.
The idea bandied around is that the ecosystem is not set-up to enable women to take on senior roles. A plethora of excuses are presented; family planning issues, reluctance for a male spouse to assume parenting role, corporate inertia towards women playing a more fundamental business role.
Whatever the reasons cited there is a certainty; the glass ceiling is something that pervades the corporate world.
Merriam-Webster defines the glass ceiling thus: an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women (or minorities) from obtaining upper-level positions.
It was against this backdrop that the short movie Glass Ceiling evolved. The writer, Fergal O’Byrne, has spent his career working in the internet space and was most recently CEO of Sonru.com, a company providing a global platform for conducting asynchronous online video interviews. He teamed up with director William Morgan and they set about developing a movie that would add to the debate on this topic.
Glass Ceiling highlights the issues facing women trying to get in to the upper echelons of the workplace; whether as senior managers or at Board of Director level. This short film brings together Samantha, a serious candidate for the role of CEO of a major corporation with Mason, the Chairman of the Board. His family built up the organisation over decades and he now needs to decide if she is “the right man for the job”. Samantha is played by IFTA nominee Gemma Doorly and Mason by veteran Hollywood actor Patrick Joseph Byrnes. To date that film has been seen in over 15 countries and is proving controversial and a major debating point around company water coolers.
Audience reaction has been interesting and often polarized. A lot of men viewing the movie do not like the female character as they think she is too “pushy” and “bossy” while women viewers think the character Mason is patronizing and old fashioned in his views. Interestingly, a lot of women do not like the female character as well because they feel she is letting them down by being too aggressive in the interview. However, women going for senior role interviews often state that they act more aggressive to try to level the playing field with male candidates!
Some female viewers also think that companies often engage in tokenism; making a huge play of the fact there is one women on their board or that they have promoted a women to a senior executive position.
Some countries are attempting to rectify this position; via positive discrimination tactics such as mandating a certain number of female position on a company’s Board of Directors. This is good but may not always achieve the desired result of gender equality. Detractors deem it to be merely a gender balancing trick and a box ticking exercise.
The context is all around
The context for this movie is all around, as evidenced in recent speeches by President Obama and Hillary Clinton Hilary Clinton has been prominent in citing the glass ceiling issue as something she wants to get rid of in the workplace. High profile business people like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg have been leading he charge with her Lean In campaign. Some have jaundiced views on this citing that it is aimed at privileged working women seeking to further their careers rather than addressing the root causes of the issue.
In the movie Glass Ceiling as the interview between Samantha and Mason unfolds we see the increasingly bizarre lengths to which she must go to attain parity with her male counterparts. We also see Mason fumble around questions relating to pregnancy and motherhood; burning questions he wants answered but knows he cannot ask, officially, at least.
Glass Ceiling will provoke, amuse and entertain anyone who has encountered barriers in the workplace or in their life. Samantha and Mason are not just individual characters, they both represent constituencies at the heart of this issue; a debate to the fore in current media.
Glass Ceiling is on general release and may be purchased directly via www.wytaofilms.com. There is also a corporate package available offering a private screening of the movie onsite and a moderated debate around this issue. For more details of this contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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