by Sarah J.F. Braley | February 14, 2017
Meeting Professionals International has launched the Women in Leadership program, focusing on executive leadership skills, starting with a pilot program last week that welcomed members of the Dallas Fort Worth chapter as well as employees of the organization. The second iteration takes place tomorrow, Feb. 15, in San Francisco.
 
Students from the pilot program of MPI's Women in Leadership program
The idea was sparked by social media. "Last year for International Women's Day, we put a post out asking women to tag other women in the industry who had inspired them," said Kristi Casey Sanders, DES, HMCC, the director of professional development for MPI who runs the MPI Academy. "The whole stream turned into a conversation about where women are in the industry."
 
The new four-hour course aims to examine why women are less likely to ascend to leadership positions than their male peers, what they can do about it, and to help them create individual action plans to overcome some of the common career obstacles.
 
"Not everyone in the room will be a CEO someday, but you will get to a higher level than if you hadn't gotten those executive skills," said Sanders. "People feel that programs of women in leadership tend to devolve into complaining a lot. We made a decision that this would not be a history class, 'women in business 101.' We are coming from a data perspective, where we are right now, what holds people back from advancement. What are things that references say that could be preventing you from getting a job? What is holding you back?"
 
The third and fourth opportunities to take the course are at MPI's European Meetings and Events Conference in Granada, Spain, March  5-7, and at the World Education Congress in Las Vegas, June 19-22; the cost is $299 for members and $399 for nonmembers. Participants receive four clock hours in CMP-IS Strategic Domain E: Human Resources; Domain F: Stakeholder Management; and Domain J: Professionalism.
 
"This is our gift back to the industry, which is very heavily female," added Sanders. "Meeting professionals are about 80 percent female, but we're not seeing 80 percent of the leadership roles filled by women."
 
The current program is the first in a series; the next might concentrate on negotiating. It is not restricted to women, said Sanders. "We actually had a man in the pilot -- he wasn't aware of some of the factors that are working against women. That was very eye-opening for him, especially as a father of young girls. There is one man registered for tomorrow's class class in San Francisco. The skills that get you into leadership are universal. Learning them is a benefit no matter what gender you are."