Michelle, a minority contracts employee for the Army, applied for a leadership position and was selected as one of the two qualified finalists. The other finalist, a white gentleman, was chosen for and offered the position. However, the gentleman declined the position. Rather than offer the position to Michelle, the sole remaining qualified person, the selecting official issued a new job announcement seeking more applicants. Michelle was again selected as one of the two qualified finalists. The other finalist, a white gentleman, was chosen for, offered, and accepted the position. Michelle saw the plexiglass ceiling, but saw no viable way around it.
Michelle, Charles, and Jose were all victims of the plexiglass ceiling. The discriminatory practices designed to keep them from obtaining leadership positions were visible-not transparent as is usually the case with glass ceilings. For minorities, there has never really been a ceiling of glass-always plexiglass. Minorities have always recognized the discriminatory practices used to block advancements. Past court cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education showed clear discriminatory practices were used to block the advancement of minorities. By allowing activities and behaviors that facilitate the continued existence of the glass and plexiglass ceilings, organizations nurture feelings of worthlessness and other inadequacies in the victims. In many cases, the victims of the plexiglass ceiling cease applying for leadership positions. The lack of minority applications is then used by organizations to explain the lack of diversity in organizational leadership roles.
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