International Women’s Day: Saluting MICE Leading Ladies – Raty Ning, president director, Pacto DMC; and vice president director, Pacto Convex, Indonesia

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. 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 Raty Ning on how she creates a work environment conducive to women's needs and progress.

What is your ambition at work?
I joined the company in 2002 and I have been witnessing Pacto Convex, and DMCs Pacto and Bali Prima growing year after year, thanks to the solid teamwork between the board of directors, middle management and staff.

Pacto Group being one of the biggest – if not the biggest – travel companies in the country, we are required to be one step ahead of our competitors.

As such, my ambition going forward is that the economic achievements of the company must be coupled with its contribution to environmental sustainability.

It is true that bringing tourists or organising events at destinations bring benefits to the local economy, but what we need is to find ways to bring sustainable benefits to the community. Sustainability, at times, requires people to stop doing what they have been doing for a long time. When we tell them to change, we need to provide them with solutions.

This cannot be done by individual companies sporadically, but (can only be achieved through) a joint industry effort. I am sure other industry players are also doing their part (to contribute to sustainability efforts). After all, today’s clients are also working towards sustainability and looking for such travel products. The challenge is to conceptualise and work towards the goal of making Indonesia an environmentally-friendly destination.

Given your position, what can you do to help improve the lives of those around you?
It is my passion to improve the welfare of women in Indonesia. I always believe that a great nation starts with good childhood education. To enable that, you need mothers who are both educated and healthy, so that they can stand on their own two feet should anything happen to their family.

Therefore, education for women is important. My position allows me to tap into my network and influence others to join in CSR programmes. This is something that I am still working on.

It is my dream to create an NGO specialising in women’s welfare, looking at mothers’ health and also empowering women economically. This will require the cooperation of my network to achieve.

Does the tourism industry provide a level-playing field for both men and women?
The way I see it, it is common for female staff to assume entry-level and middle management posts, but I want to see more women taking top positions. What the industry needs is the same opportunity given to women to obtain an education and career path opportunities as males. Having more (women in) top decision-maker positions will allow us to create policies that incorporate the interests of women.

There are needs specific to women, like motherhood responsibilities. As a single woman and a leader in the company, I have to remind myself that my female colleagues also have their obligation as mothers to their kids. When their kid is sick, for example, it’s fine if the mother needs to stay at home.

Technology has allowed us to get our work done without having to be physically present at the office. Our business is not a factory. In our industry, the middle and top management level, in particular, can still do our work outside office boundaries. So, we accommodate (flexibility) within a set of rules and regulations.

In many (Western) countries, not only do women get long maternity leave, but their husbands (are also eligible for paternity leave). We do not have that (policy in Indonesia).

How can you encourage gender equality in the workplace?
When hiring, we apply a diversity policy where job openings are for all. However, the industry itself is shaping our company to have more women than men in the middle and top management levels, particularly in the business events sector. In the leisure sector, it is 50-50.

Our recruitment and career selection are not based on gender, but professional capacity and capability. However, we have received more female applicants.

We provide equal opportunities for staff members to build their career path with us. We rarely recruit professionals from other companies – many of those sitting at the management level (were promoted) from within.

You sit at the top management level of a company which also employs your older siblings and family members. How do you harmonise work and family life?
At work, my eldest brother Ismail Ning is on the board of commissioners, while my elder sister Anty Ning is a director at Pacto Convex. I also have two other elder sisters.

The key is not to take on a leadership role back home. In the office I have to lead, but once I am home, I behave the way the youngest sibling in the family should.

I admit this is not easy. We spend eight hours a day, five days a week at work, and sometimes (we unwittingly bring our work problems) home. We just have to remind ourselves of who we are.

However, I do not believe that the term “family business” applies anymore. It is true that the majority of the company’s shares belong to (the Hasyim Ning) family, but the way we conduct business is strictly professional.

(Family members) can work in the same company but we have to prove ourselves, otherwise it will create an unhealthy environment. My nephew has started working at Pacto DMC and we treat him like a new staff.

On the other hand, Pacto Convex’s president director is Ibu Susilowani Daud, a professional who has built her career from the bottom up with us.

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