Tuesday, Becky Hammon, a WNBA legend, made history when the San Antonio Spurs hired her as the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

It is a great story of the NBA’s best franchise hiring a very qualified 37-year-old who just happens to be a woman. It is a testament to both the great basketball mind of Hammon and the innovative management style of the Spurs, a chief reason why they have won five titles in the past 15 years.

And yet, the hire is bittersweet in some ways. Because while the Hammon hiring is inspiring, the numbers show that there are many more women out there like her who aren’t getting the same opportunity.

Numbers Proving the Glass Ceiling

Women have been making up a larger and larger percentage of the workforce and even middle management, but the numbers show it stops at a certain level, i.e. the proverbial glass ceiling. The proof? The Wall Street Journal reports that women make up 53 percent of the corporate workforce at the entry level, but only 14 percent at the executive level.

On top of that, only 5.1 percent of Fortune 1,000 CEOs are women, according to Fortune.

So where does the glass ceiling exist? Between middle management and senior management.Forbes reports that half of all middle managers are women, showing no real discrimination there. And yet, again, only 14 percent of women are promoted to executive positions.

A Solution

There has been no shortage of solutions thrown out on how to break through this glass ceiling from highly-accomplished women like Sheryl Sandberg and Indra Nooyi. Both of those women have given great advice on how women can deal with the unfair situation they are in and overcome the odds stacked against them.

But that puts the emphasis on the victim of the bias rather than on the bias itself. An alternative solution would be a company gaining a competitive advantage by realizing this market inefficiency.

Think about it: we’d all agree that women are just as capable to be executives as men. And yet many more men are being promoted to those positions than women.

That means that in women, there is a wealth of untapped talent that is being underutilized. Deduction says that, all things being equal, a woman who is promoted to become an executive or CEO is likely to be more talented than a man because there are more great women out there who have not yet been promoted than men.

The Spurs were smart to identify this and take advantage of a talent pool that had otherwise gone unnoticed. And they found an intelligent, driven person who can help their organization.

Corporate America would be wise to do the same.

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