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Is the "Glass Ceiling" Expanding, the Waiting Room Getting Bigger?

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I received an email the other day (we'll get to it shortly). It crystallized why writing, blogging, spotlighting and commenting, together as a community for humanity matters.

Stay with me.

I entered the workforce in 1980 at a trailblazing time for women. Yet, I found the corporate workplace easier to work in, to navigate, back then. My mentor taught me the business well, had my future and best interests at heart. I knew that if I worked hard, put in the requisite "rookie" time, had the tenacity to last, there would be an opportunity to advance, to be rewarded. Back then, the investment banks were small and entrepreneurial (before the age of conglomeration), some still private (where risk-taking was under control). So too, back then, individual entrepreneurship and independent thinking, within the field I was in, were encouraged.

Over decades, I observed the corporate workplace change -- some good, some not so good. Work hours and work load expanded. For example, used to be that corporate treasury departments were exactly that, departments -- rather than a handful of people. Many young today find themselves working in environments without a sense of what's next for them as individuals -- moving around in the hopes for advancement. Frequent job change used to be dubbed as "job hopping" and frowned upon. Nowadays, many wait for signs of an improving economy just to make a switch. Not all are or desire to be "dot-comers," or "Wall Streeters."

Work spills over into family or leisure time. Boundaries are less defined. No doubt, our devices give us mobility, flexibility. Yet, how do we rein in the ever present work connectedness? Children, for example, know when we're distracted, but are they then distracted because we're distracted? Yet, family and leisure time forms the basis of culture, so eloquently delineated in a book I read in college of like name -- Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture. At that young age, I wondered why my favorite philosophy professor wanted us to read and remember this book. Now I understand it's meaning.

The drive for profit is not the issue. It's the drive for profit, at "any" cost, that has me worried.

What about you?

I read an article last week about those over 50, seeking internships to be noticed, for a job. For some, it's on the heels of multi-decade long careers.

Difficult. No doubt, painful.

Like starting all over again, only this time you're in your mid-fifties waiting, perhaps, at the back of the line. Feels like a waiting room. Many feel throttled. In some instances, education, wisdom and experience may no longer matter, or perhaps, are no longer valued.

This comes on the heels of an article last year about college students seeking unpaid internships, striving to get a chance in a tough economy.

Are we at an inflection point where the traditional "glass ceiling" is expanding across the spectrum of society, where education and hard work may not be the sole answer to getting ahead anymore?

Look around the waiting room -- millions unemployed (officially 9.1%), underemployed, or losing hope in their quest for a job.

Are we cost-cutting our own now that the corporate quest for how and where to produce products more cheaply is in full swing, or is becoming more competitive?

Yet, this.

"Median pay for top executives" in 2010 jumped 23% over the previous year to $10.8 million. Corporate balance sheets swell with cash.

The magnitude of the economic crisis resonates. Will many ever see prosperity, given the current construct of our existing economy? Will uncertain economic conditions impede the natural flow of life -- setting up a household, having a family...?

I am moved by the discourse and insightful comments on recent blogs -- the desire by many for expression, the desire to be heard. The following hit me deeply to remind us that we are:

...one family, one consciousness, one planet, one heart...

I took note, when a note showed up in my email from a young aspiring professional. It came with a photo of a majestic view from the summit after a mountain climb. What I found touching, is the manner in which he reached out that I might spotlight "effort and reward" in an upcoming blog.

Read on.

...that connection between our effort and our reward; something I feel that we have lost. You scurry over loose rock, a precipitous plummet on either side, bereft of adequate oxygen to fill your lungs, a tug in your chest from your pounding heart, yet you persist and make the slow, steady climb to have tangible evidence of your labor: To look across the vastness of creation, and see the beauty -- a witness only offered through the dedication of the climb. We have a society that expects everyone to climb, but at the final moment so many are denied the moment of satisfaction...

Imagine the possibilities...