Michelle Gadsden-Williams: Shattering the Glass Ceiling

August 10 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

When I first heard the phrase “breaking the glass ceiling,” I was totally confused. Why is it glass? Why are we breaking it? Who is breaking it? Wikipedia, the ever-reliable source when I have no clue what something is, says a glass ceiling is an invisible barrier that keeps a demographic, often women, down.

Now that we have that cleared up, was there ever an instance in which you hit the glass ceiling? If so, share it with another female in your life. We often think we’re alone in overcoming these kinds of obstacles because we don’t talk to each other about them. Today, talk about those obstacles and how you’re breaking through the glass ceiling


According to a recent Pew study, 40 percent of men and women believe there’s a double standard against hiring women. That means men and women are more likely to hire men. Pretty lousy, huh?

What’s crazy is that when companies use “blind” applications, meaning info about an applicant’s gender isn’t disclosed, they are likely to hire more women—five times more women, in fact! This highlights inherent bias that must be addressed.

Let’s start with addressing our own personal biases against women. After all, if women diligently help other women, we’re bound to reach equality in the workplace.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Ceiling Breakers

Michelle Gadsden-Williams made the kind of life-altering decision about her career that many of us envy. She quit her job as a managing director and global head of diversity and inclusion at a top financial-services firm in order to pursue her dream. It was a bold move, but one that she had thought about thoroughly.

With degrees in marketing, communications and organizational dynamics, Michelle made all the right moves to set herself up for a stellar career. She is passionate about integrating inclusion practices, making her the go-to woman for creating a diverse team or company. So why’d Michelle walk away from her big-time job? Simple: She wanted to be a full-time entrepreneur.

Michelle dived into founding Ceiling Breakers, a management consulting firm and online community that gives women a place to share their struggles and successes in breaking down barriers. Contributors from all ethnicities and varying career backgrounds provide a wealth of knowledge to inform, inspire and motivate women to break through those barriers and embrace thriving careers and successful lives. Learn how to embrace potentially negative changes in your job and assume control of the course of your future, or about trading in technology for a few moments of good old-fashioned human interaction.

This ceiling breaker has received accolades from Ebony, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. In 2010, Michelle received the Maya Way Award for Diversity Leadership from the incomparable Maya Angelou. Yeah, she’s a big deal!

With years of experience, Michelle is a seasoned mentor when it comes to diversity. She just participated in the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls symposium, alongside many notable women leaders.

Michelle suggests examining the risk versus reward of a situation, and then doing it again and again. For her, that meant leaving her traditional career in finance in favor of her flourishing startup. Who knew quitting your day job could lead to such great success?


Business mogul Warren Buffett said this about the barriers women face:

“If I was a woman and I thought I was getting paid considerably less than somebody else that was equal coming in, that would bother me a lot. I probably wouldn’t even want to work there. I mean, [if] somebody’s going to be unfair with you in salary, they’re probably being unfair with you in 100 other ways. I mean, who should you spend your time with?”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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