New Committee Aims to Educate and Empower Women

GABRIELLE WEISS, VICE PRESIDENT & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Atlanta—The Society of Independent Show Organizers, SISO, announced today that it will launch a new committee that focuses on women and their leadership development under the banner of SISO Women.

“We are about empowering women to reach their full leadership potential,” explained Courtney Muller, the committee’s chair and Executive Advisor at Urban Expositions. “It’s about giving women more skills in the workplace that men traditionally have.”

As a new SISO board member, Muller and others observed a gender gap in the executive ranks and enlisted board members Dana Teague, Vice President of Global Exhibitions at Informa and Mary Larkin, Executive Vice President at Diversified Communications to come up with a solution.

With overwhelming support from SISO, they created a committee to address the gap. Now, the newly formed 17-member committee is working with The Negotiation Institute (TNI) to help research professional disparity between the genders in the trade show industry. Jack Simony, Chairman of TNI, is a member of SISO and serves on the SISO Women committee.

Outside of providing corporate training programs, TNI hosts the Women Insights on the Art of Negotiation Summit (WIN Summit), an event that seeks to teach women how to achieve greater success in their careers. The institute is helping the committee develop a survey and cull the data for the committee. The results of this survey will help guide SISO Women around areas of focus for the committee.

“We need to have facts before proceeding with this initiative and determining what we’d like to talk about at the CEO Summit next year,” Muller said. “Maybe when we look at it, it’s not going to be as disproportionate as we think,” she added. “Jack (Simony) very generously offered to help us with our survey and provide his scholars to create a white paper.”

Soon, the survey will be sent out across the industry with the goal of measuring the facts and perceptions in the workplace surrounding women and opportunities for women in the industry.

SISO Women plans to present their findings and conduct a panel discussion at the SISO CEO Summit in Coral Gables, Fla. next March. They are also working to create a half-day session that will take place on the front end of the summit. In addition to the broader industry research, the group has also sent out a short survey to help guide the content of the half-day session.

Reach Courtney Muller at (203) 559-4497 or cmuller@urban-expo.com