Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Glass Floor

Up until recently the term "glass ceiling" was common when discussing women in the workplace.  It was a societal problem, a symptom of a stereotype that held that females of the species were far better suited to the kitchen than the boardroom.

The stereotype still exists but it's far more subtle now.  In the second decade of the 21st century we find more women holding the reigns of business but the numbers show they're still a minority.

Now it's less about glass ceilings and more about what you get paid once you successfully break through it.  Numbers don't lie and on average women still only make 70% of what men do in the same role.  It's just the evolution of the stereotype.  It's systemic discrimination and it's wrong but it happens.

But there's another kind of discrimination.  One that's hard to define and has no champion to defend against it.  It's discrimination born from our own ingrained subjectivity.

You can read any of the articles on how to have the perfect interview to get the job but do you comprehend the hidden message?  You're expected to be at your best but the person across the table from you is usually at their worst. 

Just walking through the door could kill your chances based on nothing more than a personal bias.  Who hasn't suspected they've lost a job because of somebody's closet racism, sexism or ageism. 

But try to prove it.

You can chalk it up to human nature but let's face it, as human beings we're awful to each other.  The truth is, most people go through life with their own little prejudicial firewall.  

The lizard part of our brains tells us that everybody is out to take our stuff and only when you prove that you're not can you make any progress. 

This is why interview advice ends up sounding like a mashup between a polished sales pitch and a Dominatrix's slave. 


This is where the Glass Floor comes in. 

It's bad enough trying to get a job you're qualified for but what if the only thing available is something less than that. 

What if instead of going for the regional sales manager you're forced to apply for grocery stocker. 

Hey, things happen and we all need some kind of income.  

Thing is, you've got an even bigger uphill battle when you're aiming lower than that sales manager gig. 

Nobody really believes your heart's desire is to be facing bottles of salad dressing the rest of your life.  Thing is, your interview for that prime minimum wage gig starts from the premise that it is.  

Meaning you'll have a hard time convincing "Buck the Boss" who rose to his lofty heights after a string of pizza delivery gigs after barely graduating high school that you're seriously interested.

It's the glass floor where those that have supposedly "made it" have no fallback position.  Yeah, you could leave that CFO position off your resume but if you're a bit older nobody is going to believe that you're that into jockeying pallets of Hidden Valley Ranch. 

Get real, stocking shelves is a crap job and everyone who's ever done it knows it.  It's not meant to be a career path but when you're sitting across the table from "Buck"  you might as well be going for a tenured Professorship at Harvard.

It's a big reason why the old saying still rings true.  There's a lot of people with Masters degrees living on the streets.

That anyone would expect a dead end job to be a lifetime career path is ridiculous.  The reality is, they don't.  It's just another "plausible" means of legally discriminating against an otherwise viable and willing candidate.

It is, the glass floor.

My advice, I don't know, I haven't found an answer yet.  Maybe I should try entrepreneurship!  I know I still have that work at home email somewhere around here...