One of the key workplace trends of the future would be the downfall of the corporate ladder, dating back to the Industrial Revolution when thriving businesses were developed on a strict order.

I immediately interpreted this as the "corporate ladder" being the subject that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. Corporate ladder as in "climbing the corporate ladder" being a metaphor for hierarchy.

I think the author means "linear hierarchy" by "corporate ladder", but could also mean "promoting people internally", as that's something that seems to also have gone by the wayside.

I agree it's not very clear as written.