In the last couple of weeks “Women in Leadership” has been popping up everywhere I turn, in many different areas of my life and as I’ve been thinking, I’ve been inspired to write this post.
The first was an article that I read a couple of weeks ago (unfortunately I cannot share the article with you because I don’t recall where or how I got a hold of it). A day later, I received an email from Meetings and Conventions Magazine with an article featuring Meeting Professionals International (MPI) newly launched Women in Leadership Course. I paid extra attention to that article because I am a member of MPI, and I also sit on the Board of the local South Florida Chapter as VP of Education.
This new four-hour course that MPI has launched 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 more common career obstacles. Apparently women represent 80% of our industry, yet we are not seeing 80% in leadership roles. You can click on this link to read the article and learn more about the course: http://www.meetings-conventions.com/News/Industry-Associations/MPI-Launches-Women-in-Leadership-program-meeting-planners/
Last Wednesday, I attended my Emmaus Women’s meeting and oddly enough our topic that day was about “Work” and “Women in Leadership”. The topic was brought up by one of our sisters who shared that at the Hospital where she is currently working they are now launching a “Women in Leadership” initiative because they realized that most of the “leaders” they have are men. Do you see the duplication here? Stay with me…
Then I received an email from my Strategic Intervention & Leadership Coach forum that spoke to Coaches about focusing on Women and Leadership. I started to think and connect all of the areas of my life where this subject was present. In the 3 years or so that I’ve been practicing my Coaching as a Certified Strategic Intervention & Leadership Coach, I think back, and my clients have been both men and women. I started to think back to see if I could identify any differences between Coaching the two and some thoughts and differences came up.
Then yesterday, we celebrated “International Women’s Day” and I was congratulated by quite a few people. Both during meetings or conference calls held, and a few text messages, including one from my uncle who lives in Puerto Rico. I even received an urgent call from the Mayor of the city where I live, asking me to come meet her and some other El Portal staff for 2 minutes, and when I quickly went over to meet them at 5pm, I found out she wanted to take this picture I’ve placed to the right of this post which features some of our police officers, our Village Clerk, the Mayor and I. I was recently elected this past November and sit on the Council of our beautiful Village. Anyhow, I found this all very odd because I don’t recall this day ever being so pronounced. At least not in my personal interactions. This is even more peculiar because Facebook is typically where I get to find out what special International day is being celebrated, and I haven’t been on Facebook since Ash Wednesday when I gave it up for lent. All of these interactions got my mind going and my thoughts took me to all of the Women’s Marches that took place around our Country earlier this year. I continue to connect the dots.
As I connect the dots, I see the trends and as I read articles, have discussions, I realize that they all pretty much have the same information. Basically, women feel that they are still treated differently than men and that they get paid differently. There are statistics support that women still get paid less than men, and that there are less women in leadership than men. But at the same time, I’ve also seen articles and statistics that talk about a rise in women leadership. Like with any subject, if you google, you will find different statistics for the same subject.
Again, I am not sure why all of a sudden this subject is so apparent to me but one thing I know for sure, I believe women are just as intelligent and capable as men. I believe that if women want to be in leadership and get paid their worth, they should. I also believe that as women we should empower each other and look for ways to celebrate each other as men often do. After connecting all these dots, and for the first time ever sitting down to really think about this subject, I ask myself where is all this leading and what am I to do about it.
As a woman, I have been in leadership for most of my career. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career where I have had the opportunity to grow and learn. I started my hospitality career at 15 years old working part-time at the front desk of a hotel where a few years later I was promoted to my first leadership role as a Front Desk Supervisor. My career continued to grow, and I went from the small hotel in Lynbrook, Long Island to working in New York City at a very high-end all suites hotel on the upper East Side of Manhattan. Once again, I was quickly promoted to leadership. Then I moved to Miami where I also held a leadership role as Assistant Front Desk Manager. Few years later I went from operations to group sales and later promoted to leadership within Sales. In 2013, I shifted from working full time in hotels as Director of Sales & Marketing to becoming an entrepreneur within the Hospitality and Meetings Industry. My personal experience is that I do not feel that I’ve not been able to get opportunities because I am a woman. I’ve gone for promotions where men have also been candidates, and I have received the promotion. I even think I possibly got paid more. I unfortunately cannot relate to what many women feel. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe this is true. I just have not experienced it personally. I have a Type A personality and I am extremely goal oriented and determined. I question if that has anything to do with my ability to have held so many leadership roles.
As I look back, something did come up. I remember that I was never the type of girl to have too many girl friends. I was always friendly but most of my closest friends were always men. I felt I could relate better, and I also thought women were “catty” or judgmental and gossipy, and I could not relate to those qualities.That was my honest impression of women. It wasn’t until maybe 10 years ago that I started expanding my circles with many women friends. In fact, it was quite noticeable to me and I saw the shift where I now appreciated the nurturing I was receiving from my women friends. I also didn’t surround myself around women that were “catty” or judgmental. The women all had something in common. They were strong and independent women. Many were much older than I and we all appreciated and respected each others strengths and weaknesses. I can now say that I have many girl friends with all different backgrounds and experiences. I now realize the importance of having these circles and how the women in my life have helped me grow.
I’ve come so far that I even joined a fabulous Mastermind Group that my friend started about a year ago. We were 6 ladies who came together to read and study the book “Think and Grow Rich”. I think back to that Mastermind Group and how together we supported each of our goals, and it was truly amazing. Masterminds have been around for ever, but I don’t hear many women talk about being a part of one. If you are reading this post and you are a woman, or have a special woman in your life, I recommend you/they find a Mastermind Group locally. You’ll be amazed on how much you can grow and how you can support the growth of other women.
Seeing this shift in my life, and recognizing that there are many women that are not as confident or have not had the same opportunities that I have, has made me compassionate towards this subject. I would like to contribute where-ever I can to see women gain confidence and not be afraid to go for what they want. Including leadership roles. How I will contribute to this is yet to come…I haven’t thought that far but I think writing this post is a start.
I’d love to hear comments and thoughts on this subject. Are you a woman who feels that you have not had the same opportunities as your male colleagues? Are you a woman who relates to my journey? Are you someone who works on empowering women? Are you someone who thinks this is all BS? Whoever you are and what ever it is that you have done or not done, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until then…make it a productive rest of the week!
Happy belated #InternationalWomensDay!