Providing a forum for women to fulfill leadership destiny


Mary Larkin explains how SISO is expanding its Women’s Leadership Programme

In its third year, the SISO (Society for Independent Show Organisers) Women’s Leadership Programme has grown to become a full educational programme at both the SISO CEO Summit and the SISO Leadership Conference.

The mission of the SISO Women’s group is to provide a forum “where the industry’s aspirational woman comes to be inspired, to engage and to fulfill their leadership destiny”.

In 2017, the SISO Board of Directors sponsored a survey produced by the Negotiation Institute which also presents the WIN Summit – Women Insights on Negotiation. The aim of the survey was to understand gender diversity within the industry.

At a time when women are outnumbering men in the workforce at colleges and are collecting more degrees, the results were revealing. Women represent on average 63% of the employee population of the industry by company; at mid-level roles, women represent 51% of the make-up of companies, but by senior level, that has dropped to 35%. Not surprisingly, by CEO level, that drops to 9%. SISO Women aims to provide the tools to help the industry close that gap.

Another major highlight from the survey showed that women and men, at most levels of their organisations, want more training especially senior management training. Women specifically wanted female focused training. And SISO is delivering that education.

The survey advised companies to consider both women specific and senior management training; pay attention to pay equality; provide mentorship and sponsorship programs and to consider company sponsored female networks. Providing such programmes allow women to be more visible to senior management and therefore more likely to be considered for more senior roles within organisations.

Credit Suisse’s Gender 3000 survey showed that companies with female leadership at multiple levels performed better on their share prices as well as female CEO-led companies had a higher return on equity.

For 2019, the SISO Executive Women’s Forum at the SISO CEO Summit will focus on “Being an Only – Challenges and Practices for Women in Male-Dominated Organisations”, presented by Anne Litwin, PhD. 

Many women face being the only female on a leadership team or Board of Directors and that brings its own set of issues on being taken seriously, being interrupted and getting their message heard.  The SISO Leadership Summit in August hosts the SISO Women’s Leadership Forum a full day and a half educational programme for women – and men – advancing their careers. This past session covered leadership skills training as well as negotiation, strategic thinking, mentoring and sponsoring programs as well as language and perception awareness.

Highly rated by attendees, SISO will be holding this valuable educational forum again in Detroit, USA, 12-15 August, 2019.

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