Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Social Entrpreneurs: Glass Ceiling or Sticky Floor?

As a champion of diversity in the workplace, over the years, I have had sufficient opportunity to discuss glass ceilings with executive management as well as hold mentoring sessions around sticky floors - which is the tendency to develop roots in our comfort zone that makes every opportunity look like a glass ceiling. I (and many others) found the imagery evoked by glass ceiling/sticky floor to be quite effective in getting the message across.

Now that I've been researching the social entrepreneurship ecosystem, I have come to realise that the glass ceiling/sticky floor metaphor is one that can be dusted off and put to good use once again. The equivalent of climbing the corporate ladder in the social entrepreneurship scene is scale- If I can change the lives of a 100 people for the better, then can I move on to change the lives of a 1000? 10,000? A million? What must change? What stays the same? What part is process; what part passion?

Just as when articulating diversity as a business value (e.g. productivity, creativity, teamwork) it would serve us well to separate the challenges in social venture creation as institutional (glass ceilings) or personal development (sticky floor) and not allow one to masquerade as the other- the strategies to address the two are radically different.

I like the glass ceiling/sticky floor metaphor- its easy to remember and act on versus the other business buzzwords - or maybe its just in my comfort zone.


Tirzaahhh said...

This is a great thing to keep in mind! We are often our own largest barrier to success and we don't even stop to think about what could be... thanks for the reminder!

Neerja Raman said...

Thanks Tirzah