International Women’s Day: Saluting MICE Leading Ladies – Jane Vong Holmes, senior manager – Asia, GainingEdge

The fight for gender equality is for everyone, and necessary for economies and communities to thrive. With this in mind, International Women’s Day 2020 galvanises all women to work towards an equal world, by challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, broadening perceptions, improving situations and celebrating women's achievements. In support of this campaign, TTG Asia and TTGmice are featuring women leaders in the travel, tourism and business events industry this week. Today, we speak to Jane Vong Holmes to find out how she is using her graceful powers to change the perception of women in the industry and her push for inclusiveness.

What is the one narrative you’d love to change about women in the workforce, and why?
I would like to change this perception: “Women are sticklers for details, and micromanagers”, the connotation being “fussy”.

Every organisation needs a balance: visionaries who see beyond the box; and those who put emphasis on details. I believe, the right woman can do both, given the opportunity.

Having said this, I am sure our women colleagues will agree with me – we want to be contributors and not quotas.

Are you able to change that narrative through your work? How?
I feel that our meetings industry is the one industry which has many women leaders. I don’t believe that they are there because they are women; they are there because they are good at what they do.

What community cause are you most passionate about that you can use your professional skills or position to support?
When I was generously given the IMEX Asia Pacific award 2013, I was lucky to be able to use this recognition to work with 11 other winners – men and women from around the world – on our first community project. We donated 22 wheelchairs to the Zhongxin Town Sunshine Home in China.

This has morphed into the ICCA Members Gift of Love (GOL) Project linked with the annual ICCA Congress from 2014 onwards, with in-kind contributions ranging from books to toys, and from shoes to spectacle frames.

As gender equality is for everyone, not just for women, how can Asia’s business events community work together to encourage this?
The keyword is “inclusiveness”, and not just by gender.

I would love to see both sides of the table – organisers and suppliers – giving more importance to universal accessibility for all participants. If the organisers demand universal accessibility in their RFPs, this will lead to the transformation which will not only affect the event, but also the host destination. This is one way how meetings and events can be catalysts for societal impacts.

There are various ways organisations can promote inclusiveness – through transparent recruitment processes, flexible working hours, corporate culture etc.

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