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Pay It Forward

Investing in women is always profitable

Pay It Forward

At the inaugural Global Gaming Women panel at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City in May, a lively discussion ensued between the panelists on the topic of the path to gender equality in the workplace. In the gaming industry, women represent almost 50 percent of the employee base in the United States, but are significantly underrepresented in the management ranks. Numerous studies outside of gaming have shown that economic growth improves with more women in senior management positions, and companies that invest in women’s employment can gain a competitive advantage.

Central to the theme of advancement is education. As the centerpiece of Global Gaming Women’s expanded programming in 2016, four separate programs are being offered that build an educational pyramid to help women improve their business skills, and aid in personal growth.

To make certain that the GGW education programs are accessible to as many women as possible, three are being offered in four different regions in the United States beginning this year—South, West, East and Midwest—with plans to expand internationally in 2017.

The first level of the pyramid is our Emerging Leaders program. The target audience of the one-and-a-half-day program is women not currently in the management ranks but interested in gathering skills for advancement. The core curriculum for this stepping stone into GGW’s educational programming focuses on planning and goal setting, developing confidence and setting expectations as women step into supervisory roles. GGW will partner with interested companies to hold this customizable program at locations where there is an interest, sending a skilled trainer to the location.

The next level in the pyramid has been developed for Front Line Leaders. The program consists of one and a half days of content relevant to those new to leadership positions, and includes stress management, time management, team building, and utilizing feedback for performance improvement. Lunch speakers will include women in senior management positions, and the regional conferences will give women the opportunity to network and build relationships with other professionals in their respective locations.

The third step on the pyramid is Leadership Development, with conferences taking place regionally throughout each year. The program curriculum has been developed for managers and director-level participants to increase management skills, with topics including finance for the non-financial manager, conflict management, emotional intelligence and presentation skills.

The two-day educational summit will also assess individual communication techniques, leadership styles, critical thinking skills and effective decision-making in the workplace. Attendees will develop an action plan and commitment strategy to apply the skills and knowledge learned at the summit to their personal career goals, and will have the opportunity to participate in an exclusive mentoring event with female executives in the gaming industry.

The highest level of the pyramid is the W Development Conference for senior executives. This conference is offered in Las Vegas, and will be held annually for women in top leadership positions. The W program sessions include emotional intelligence, leadership development, strategic thinking and public speaking. Attendees will have the opportunity for unique one-on-one mentoring as they engage with female gaming executive leaders.

The program will provide the opportunity for enhancement of technical skills, training and resources necessary to succeed in our fast-paced industry. In addition, specific breakout sessions will be available in marketing, accounting, IT, resort operations, risk management and other professional areas.

The speakers are the most accomplished professionals in gaming, and participants will have the opportunity to meet and dine in an intimate setting with other established senior executives. As the final step on the educational pyramid, W graduates will have the opportunity after completing the program to “Pay It Forward” and continue the cycle of building the next generation of female leaders in gaming.

All classes are offered via scholarship, meaning there is no charge for the employer or the employee for the programs or courses. There are some prerequisite requirements for application, and there may be associated lodging or travel costs for participants.

The applicant selection process is done by an independent Global Gaming Women subcommittee which seeks both company and job diversity for each class, and eligible women are encouraged to apply multiple times if they are not selected in the first round. The current schedule of events for the remainder of 2016 is as follows:

• W Development Conference: August 31-September 2 at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas;

• Leadership Development-Midwest Region: August 22-24 in Chicago; and,

• Leadership Development-Southern Region: November 2-4 in Florida at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.

Global Gaming Women is also seeking volunteers to help organize the various conferences and programs, as well as participate on the committees that are working on our other important initiatives. To learn more about these programs, as well as other educational opportunities, including the Zen online public speaking program and scholarships offered by the GGW Charitable Education Fund to attend the MGM Resorts Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Conference and Global Gaming Expo, please visit the newly launched GGW website at

Virginia McDowell retired as president and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016, after a 35-year career in the gaming industry. She currently serves as president and board chair of Global Gaming Women.

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