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Breaking The Glass Ceiling: Good for Business, Good for America

NCJW Journal; New York Vol. 18, Iss. 2,  (Oct 31, 1995): 18.
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BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING: Good for Business, Good for America

Thirty years ago, in his commencement address at Howard University, President Lyndon Johnson offered the philosophical rationale that links the values contained in the Constitution with the civil rights programs and policies we have today.

While Johnson referred specifically to African Americans, he spoke for all people who had historically been denied equity, access to and opportunity for employment, education, housing, and voting. It was not enough just to open the gates of opportunity -- all citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. "We seek not just legal equity but human ability. Not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result," he said.

The Glass Ceiling Commission was created as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The focus of this 21-member Presidential Commission, chaired by Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, is to investigate the barriers that keep qualified women and people of color from achieving the highest management levels in corporate America. The Commission strives to focus greater public attention on these "glass ceiling" barriers, and to recommend policies, practices and procedures that can reduce or eliminate them. The Commission found much work still to be done to realize the vision that speaks not just of freedom, but of individual rights and opportunities.

Glass ceiling barriers, or those invisible impediments that obstruct individuals as they attempt to advance, affect different groups in different ways; they appear at different levels in various industries and may be unique to a particular company. The Commission combined a holistic approach to the overall problem of employment discrimination with the recognition that women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Islander Americans, Native Americans, and others confront barriers unique to their group...