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The mythic images that sought to depict and inadvertently posit that organizational performance is embedded on the presence of stereotypic males on the pinnacles of organizational hierarchy have for decades stimulated varying ethical questions as regards the nature and responsibilities of the woman in the workplace(Dubuffet et al 1998). Stimulants such as economic necessity and personal ambitions increasingly push women to what had until recently been nothing but a male dominated sphere. Despite stories of management successes, women have been forced to contend with the view that even in the workplace their obligations and desires in the domestic sphere continue to prescribe their opportunities and expectations in the workplace.
The glass ceiling; that invisible barrier which separates women and minorities from progressing to top management positions is ripe even today’s management networks. Women look up through this ceiling and observe the top management but they can not step forward to these positions due to the prevailing attitudes and stereotypes which are as invisible as the glass ceiling itself but effectively barricade their advancement. Additionally, women are often excluded from informal manager networks and denied access to the nature of the general and line management experience that is fundamental to rising the management ranks. Studies have also demonstrated that these glass walls act as invisible barriers to lateral movement within the firm(Daft 2008). Invisible glass ceilings and exclusion cumulatively operate to deny women and other minorities in the workplace from accessing and gaining valuable experience in line supervision hence indirectly curtailing their vertical advancement.
Statistical evidence for the effectiveness of the glass ceiling can be observed in the persistence of the large distribution of women in the bottom levels of corporate hierarchy. While great strides have been made over the years, racial, gender and sexual orientation preferences for top management that accounted for the statistical disparity still exist. There are arguments to the extent that due to the underlying attitudes and stereotypes, women are never hitting the glass ceiling since they chose to opt out of the hierarchical ladder long before the glass ceiling comes into view. The opt out trend explains why there are large numbers of women voluntarily leaving the workforce before the full realization of their career potentials. Proponents of the opt out trend cites the unworthiness of the price of corporate success with regard to the consequences which include less personal time, reduced family, elevated stress levels and negative health effects. Moreover, comparatively corporate and status appeals less to women unlike men who will claw onto hierarchical advancement for the sole benefit of power and status(Daft 2008).
For women who persist in mainstream career advancement, the corporate environment is on a continual transformation. Structures and policies which fitted the stereotypical male employee are being changed to adequately facilitate and support diversity, eliminate racism and gender discrimination, and improve guidance and complaint procedures.
According to utilitarian and deontological considerations, if a company perpetuates an action that is detrimental to the upward mobility of women towards the infamous glass ceiling then the consequences of such actions must be in congruence to the actions themselves. With regard to utilitarianism, an action taken should be aimed at the good of the largest proportion of people, while the deontological view posits that an action taken should be aimed at the pre-stated or predetermined result of such an action; basically “the end justifies the means”. Stifling a woman’s career advancement through poor pay and other obstacles meant to prevent their vertical progression in the corporate ladder specifically lends no good neither to the woman, other women employees or to the performance of the firm itself. This implies that if such actions are perpetuated by the company, then they are ethically wrong.
On the basis of the deontological view, companies operate with the major goal of profitability in an atmosphere of heightened national and international competition. Alternatively, a companies organizational success and long term productivity is its ability to fully utilize all resources at its disposal(human resources inclusive). Through changes in the workforce brought about by ethical considerations, legal efforts, social pressures and altruistic considerations, organizations are continually being nudged to diversify their workforce to be in line with gender ethical considerations and promote equal access to opportunities necessary for career development(Pierre 1998). All these substantive adjustments work towards the corporation’s advantage. Since the deontological view posits that the end justifies the means, wherein the end in corporate profitability, it follows that for a decision as regards women in the workplace to be ethically correct, such a decision must aim towards the banishment of bias and discriminations that curtail the lateral and vertical advancements of women. An ethically correct corporate action is in congruence with the long term goals of corporate productivity and profitability.