In a Q&A to mark International Women’s Day, Jane Sun, chief executive of global OTA and Skyscanner parent Trip.com explains why gender diversity is crucial to the success of any business
IWD 2022 Big Interview: Trip.com chief Jane Sun on striving for better diversity
Why is it important for Trip.com Group, and for all companies, to strive to have good gender diversity both within its workforce and among its leadership?
At Trip.com Group, we want to attract the best talent to join our company, regardless of gender.
We have launched several campaigns to help us promote female presence and gender diversity as part of the company’s corporate culture.
Implicit to this is recognising the diverse needs of women at work, to ensure we have a positive culture in which all genders can thrive equally, and in turn enhance our teamwork.
Having gender diversity in the decision-making process helps bring together different perspectives to situations, resulting in well-thought-through results.
What policies and strategies does Trip.com Group have in place aimed at empowering women in the workplace and how do you tackle institutional sexism?
At Trip.com Group we believe diversity in the workplace is the key to business success because it stimulates creativity and innovation.
We have implemented strong measures to support the hiring and promotion of female staff, with equal opportunities at the heart of this.
Trip.com Group also enforces a workplace code of conduct to support diversity and inclusion.
Even before the pandemic we were recognising the diverse needs that women at work can have and have recently pioneered a global hybrid work model that all employees can benefit from.
Ensuring all employees – not just women, have a healthy work-life balance is essential to employee satisfaction and motivation, and we have seen first-hand the benefits innovative working models can bring female staff.
We really hope to set a good example in the industry of the benefits flexible working can bring to both women and their employees, and to encourage other businesses to follow suit.
In such a large and international business, what are the key challenges to achieving gender equality? Are they practical or cultural, or is it a question of individual mindset?
No matter the size of the company, it is important to actively support women in the workforce to ensure they can achieve their full potential.
At Trip.com Group we recognise the diverse needs that women at work can have, and have pioneered hybrid and home working options, to ensure that they can achieve the same as their male counterparts.
Although the situation in the workplace has improved, gender bias and some of the traditional expectations of women are still present in society.
It is important we continue to breakdown these barriers to help empower women.
How important is it for aspiring female employees to have role models to look up to?
As a female business executive and a working mother, inspiring other women in business is really important to me.
I am proof that with dedication, perseverance and a strong work ethic, women can become senior leaders.
I feel a responsibility to set the kinds of policies that will empower the next generation of female leaders.
As a business we need to have the right culture and values to ensure our female employees are sufficiently supported and given the opportunity to thrive in any industry.
This can be through working policies that support their diverse needs to allow them to thrive, and in doing so boost their confidence to succeed.
Having women in senior leadership roles at the company also helps to inspire and motivate female employees that they too can achieve the same.
As a senior female leader, how important is it that the women you appoint and promote are accepted by their peers as being there on merit?
It is crucial for all employees – regardless of gender, to be respected by their peers which is important for teamwork and the ultimate success of the company.
Gender diversity is a core part of our culture and runs through everything we do from the initial recruitment stage through to internal promotions.
Women make up more than half of Trip.com Group employees, whilst 43% of our female employees hold middle level positions, and nearly one third are executives.
Women also help lead many of the technological developments and innovations at Trip.com Group.
Do you think employers are doing enough in supporting staff through early parenthood to ensure equality of gender opportunity?
Supporting all our staff, regardless of gender, through early parenthood is a core part of our culture.
Every employer should be supporting staff through early parenthood and employees should feel empowered to support their peers who are new parents.
For example, one of my direct reports had just had a baby and was breastfeeding – I offered for her to bring her baby to an offsite leadership team so she could breastfeed them during the break.
I feel it’s very important for us to give women more flexibility by establishing the infrastructure to eliminate unnecessary barriers so they can take care of both their work and their family.
In what ways do you think the travel industry would be totally different if it had it been built by women?
I don’t think it’s possible to speculate what the travel industry would be like if it was built by women.
However, what we do know is that having a diverse working environment and equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender, is key to a successful business because it enables different perspectives and ideas to be brought to the table.
How do you rate the travel industry’s record in terms of championing gender diversity?
In recent decades we have seen incredible progress particularly in relation to gender equality.
Through the brave acts of individuals across all walks of life, women around the world today are visible in society, business and politics.
It is important for organisations’ business models to include support for all employees regardless of their gender, ensure they encourage all staff members to progress in their careers.
However, there is still work to be done and collectively, we must strive to ensure better diversity and inclusion across all sectors, organisations and in everyday life.