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To move up in the hierarchy of a corporation.

A 'ladder' is a device with steps used to 'climb' (or move) up and down, so the 'corporate ladder' is the series of steps people go through as they gain more power in a corporation and 'rise to the top' - from file clerk up to president.
You have to work very hard if you want to climb the corporate ladder.
by VAKI5 May 12, 2005
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