Breaking the 600 Year Glass Ceiling
When Jill Pay became the Serjeant at Arms of the UK Parliament, she broke a glass ceiling that had existed for 600 years. The position was established by King Henry V in 1415 – and it took until the mid-2000s to get a woman in the job.
So you would think that, having been the first woman to hold the job, Ms. Pay would be supportive of other women also trying to break through their own glass ceilings. You’d be wrong.
Because, as she stated in an interview on BBC’s “Westminster Hour”:
I don’t agree with quotas of women on management boards. I think people should be on a management board…because they’re the right person and have the right skills and experience and aptitude.
She’s right and she’s wrong. She’s correct that those who sit in those chairs should have the skills, ability, experience and aptitude to warrant them being there. But she’s wrong in her also-stated belief that other women will have the opportunity she had.
They may get those opportunities, but it won’t be soon and it won’t be easy.
And that’s yet another example of how successful women consistently undermine other, aspiring women.
The best way to understand why the so-called ‘quotas’ for non-executive Board positions is the way to go is to look at that progression the same way that civil rights were legislated and established. Specifically:
- Were it not for legislation granting voting rights, minority populations and women wouldn’t be able to vote.
- Were it not for legislation providing educational opportunities – again to minorities and women – they would not have access to higher education.
- And were it not for the equal opportunity legislation, women and minorities wouldn’t have had the opportunity to move up the corporate ladder at all.