At WLS 2018, WLA Platinum Contributor IGT hosted a reception for the Women’s Initiative in Lottery Leadership (WILL), which took place on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 20. Founded in 2016 by Rebecca Hargrove, WLA President and Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation President and CEO, WILL aims to promote women’s leadership in the lottery industry. Funding for the WILL program was kicked off by an AUD 50,000 scholarship donation from WLA Gold Contributor Jumbo Interactive.

The Women’s Initiative in Lottery Leadership program was conceived in late 2016 as a vehicle for encouraging the development of women in leadership positions in the lottery industry. The program was founded by WLA President and Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove, as part of her lifelong commitment to nurturing new and unrecognized talent in the lottery industry. “Our ambition is to create a path for talented and passionate women professionals to realize their full potential,” said Ms. Hargrove.

Diversity matters
It is now generally recognized in business and the wider community that diversity matters. A 2018 report by McKinsey & Co. found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

As highlighted in the article Why We Need More Women Leaders, published on the WILL website, modern ideas of transformative leadership are more in line with qualities traditionally identified with women: empathy, inclusiveness, and an open negotiation style.

If we think that just 50 years ago, women could not keep a job while pregnant or get a mortgage if single, it is easily understandable that our society has a lot to do to leverage their potential. “Things are better today,” said Mike Veverka, CEO of Jumbo Interactive, “but there is still some way to go, so to make meaningful change we need to start now.”

Kick-off events
Following a kick-off meeting held in conjunction with the 2017 European Lotteries Congress in Krakow, Poland, WILL has held a number of events that have boosted the community and creating opportunities to enhance the Initiative. Inter alia, WILL has gathered at the WLA/EL Marketing Seminar hosted in London in February 2018; at the PGRI SMART-Tech Conference in March 2018; at the Industry Days in Prague in June 2018; and at NASPL ‘18 in Cleveland, Ohio in September 2018.

Over the course of these events, the mission of the Initiative has emerged, namely: to further drive high-performance business growth through supporting the advancement of women into top positions of lottery management leadership and responsibility.

The Mentor/Mentee Program
It is under the umbrella of WILL that the mentor/mentee program was launched in the U.S. last April. The purpose of the program is to establish mentoring relationships that will provide women with the opportunity to realize both professional and personal development, as well as enable the lottery industry to strengthen women in leadership capabilities.

“As senior executives of the lottery industry, it’s normal to want to pass on the experience to younger executives working their way up through the ranks, regardless of whether they are a man or a woman,” said Brian Roberts, North American President of Jumbo Interactive.

The mentor/mentee program has reached Europe, where last June Ms. Hargrove presented the program in Prague during the Industry Days. Anyone can sign up to become a mentor or a mentee. In this connection, many training opportunities and initiatives will be organized for personal growth. In time, it is hoped that such opportunities will pave the way for the strong development of the lottery industry, especially with respect to revenue growth and an increasing commitment to CSR.

Organization and administration
WILL is administered by a board of directors, comprised of women CEOs of lotteries worldwide, leading women from the vendor community, and a number of male CEOs with a strong track record in mentoring and supporting women in leadership positions. “The Public Gaming Research Institute (PGRI) is an integral part of the WILL mission, not just in spirit, but as administrator, media platform, and seminar coordinator and is pleased to do so,” said Paul Jason, CEO of PGRI.

Coming events
The WILL community is meeting once again in a special session at the upcoming WLA/EL Marketing Seminar “What’s New? What’s Hot? What’s Not” in London, England, on February 7, 2019.

Additionally, on February 28, 2019, a WILL seminar is scheduled to take place as part of PGRI’s SMART-TECH 2019 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The seminar will feature top female lottery CEOs and special keynote speakers and will cover such important topics as the role of women in the lottery industry and the challenges that they face, as well as what can be done to promote the advancement of professional women around the globe.