What prevents women from advancing within companies? How empowering are theirs? Could their fears or guilt affect them and prevent them from breaking the "glass ceiling"?.
Ayda María Martínez Ipuz
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That was the starting point for the company Gelsa to implement a new empowerment strategy for its employees. And rightly so, as they make up 97% of their workforce.
According to Isabel Cristina Lopera, Administrative Manager at Gelsa, relying solely on methodologies to break the "Glass Ceiling" was not enough, so they shifted to new strategies: "ending the sticky floor."
This term is related to gender inequality in the labor market, a concept coined in 1992 by sociologist Catherine Berheide in a report for the Centre for Women in Government. It refers to the difficulty women face in moving out of lower-level positions in corporate hierarchies compared to men.
"Our work focuses on empowering women. We are working within our company. As within, so without. If you want gender equity to be visible, it must start from within. It means starting with internal equity. It's part of our program," explained Lopera, who leads the implementation of these projects within the Gelsa Colombia Group, an unprecedented initiative in the country.
The "Biodecoding" project, along with complementary programs to improve women's quality of life, aims to address comprehensively the fears and issues women face when aspiring to improve their situation within the company.
"When we talk about gender inclusion, we need to address various fronts, including gratitude, health or illness, values, and families. It's about taking a systemic approach to the issue. Here, we look at the holistic picture. It's a way of mentoring through a deep program that touches people on a personal level," she added.
Likewise, supportive spaces have been created for women, as it is a fact that the "sticky floor" is closely linked to family attachments. This involved working hand in hand with psychologists, bio decoding doctors, and implementing support programs for families such as value-based schools, soccer, theater, and swimming, as well as supporting young children to study at the National Learning Service (Sena) and do their internships within the group.
"It's about speaking from the essence, and through our programs, we are creating a space where women listen to women, addressing topics like sexual abuse, which is often not discussed due to shame, guilt, and frustration. In 2011, we invested in a system that goes beyond trends or fads. We went further, focusing on education. It's about systemic processes," Lopera emphasized.
As part of this program, the creation of a psychological assistance system for emergency cases is being planned, for which a group of professionals is being prepared.
"This is precisely what makes the difference, thinking about the human being, not seeing the person solely as a business agent. Organizations have souls and human beings, and if we work on the human being, there is much to be done. It goes beyond impacting the individual; it extends to their families, fostering the growth of all members within this organization," highlighted the Administrative Manager of Gelsa.
In this way, the business sector is making efforts to break down the barriers that are preventing women from having greater participation in decision-making centers within companies.