When women make up the majority of membership in industry associations, it seems redundant to create a separate advocacy group exclusively for women. Not true, says Christine Duffy, president of Philadelphia-based McGettigan Partners, one of the largest meeting management companies in the business.
"Women are not in the majority in holding senior level positions," says Duffy, who recently established the Women's Meeting Industry Leaders Council. "At McGettigan, most of the executives are women, and I've been thinking about doing this for long enough," she says, taking a cue from other industries with similar groups such as Women in Film. "There's a disproportionate number of men at the senior level," says Duffy, "and no one's disagreeing with me on that."
Duffy gathered some of her most high-powered colleagues, and the Council held its first meeting during Meeting Professionals International's World Congress in Los Angeles. Among the 20 initial members are Charlotte St. Martin, executive vice president of Loews Hotels, and Dawn Penfold, president of Meetings Candidate Network, an executive search firm she created.
"If you look at our industry," Duffy says, "there is no research on women, nothing to tell us what is the best segment for women, nothing on what are the best companies for women. And we want to recognize those companies who are walking their talk." The group won't be starting another association, says Duffy, but will look to existing industry groups such as MPI, Professional Convention Management Association, and the American Society of Association Executives, to piggyback with educational tracks designed for women. "This is not an us vs. them, male-bashing thing," Duffy says. "It's about taking an opportunity and the responsibility to address issues and help women get those senior positions."
Leave it to a veteran event planner to write a soup-to-nuts book on how to do it right. Judy Allen, founder and president of Judy Allen Productions, whose clients include EMI Music Canada, Wyeth-Ayerst Canada Inc., and Marriott International, has put it all down in Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraising Galas, Conferences, Conventions, Incentives and Other Special Events (2000 Wiley & Sons, Canada).
Allen, a frequent speaker at meeting industry conferences, covers all bases from budgeting to site selection. Tip boxes are strategically placed throughout. Here's one example: "When renting an item such as a chocolate fountain, remember to include the cost of trained personnel to run it."
Planners will find Allen's appendices most useful; she includes sample cost sheets, payment schedules, and function sheets for meetings and incentive programs. Worksheets can be downloaded from the book's companion Web site (www.wiley.com/canada/event_planning), where visitors can also find more information about Allen.