Women business leaders from the Middle East and Gulf States gathered today at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai to discuss 'Women as Dynamic Forces of Change,' as part of a three-day celebration honoring the iconic new hotel.
Created as a forum to empower women, the luncheon and panel discussion sparked the beginning of a longer-term strategic brand partnership between JW Marriott and Vital Voices, a global non-profit that trains and mentors women to enhance their leadership and economic opportunity. The Dubai Business Women Council, the leading organization of women entrepreneurs in Dubai, also partnered on this women's forum, the first of many sponsored by the JW Marriott brand around the world.
The panel discussion was led by Kathleen Matthews, Corporate Officer and EVP, Global Communications and Public Affairs, Marriott International, Inc.; Vital Voices President & CEO Alyse Nelson; Dubai Business Women Council President Raja Easa Al Gurg; Conde Nast Traveler Vice President & Publisher Carolyn Kremins; JW Marriott Vice President & Global Brand Manager Mitzi Gaskins; and international design icon and Urban Zen founder Donna Karan who has signature stores in the Dubai Mall.†† Her Urban Zen Foundation and retail brand focuses on Donna's philosophy of Conscious Consumerism to not only dress, but also address wellness, preserve culture and empower women.Photo: Raja Easa Saleh Al Gurg, Alyse Nelson, Mitzi Gaskins, Donna Karan, Kathleen Matthews
Held in the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai's world-class Tong Thai restaurant, the women leaders shared personal experiences on managing a team, mentoring other women, building a brand, and advice on overcoming challenges in the workplace. The group also broke into more intimate, table-top discussions over lunch to examine these and other issues facing women today.† Table topics included "Know Who You Are: Building Your Personal and Professional Brand," "Career, Community and Personal Well-Being," and "Paying it Forward: Encouraging Others to Lead."† Luncheon attendees included women from the Dubai Business Women's Council, senior Marriott women executives from the Dubai market and media.
"The JW Marriott brand has a very loyal following of successful women business leaders who appreciate our focus on luxury, well-being and local culture," said JW Marriott Vice President & Global Brand Manager Mitzi Gaskins. "We believe partnering with Vital Voices will continue to inspire our female guests, who are looking for networking opportunities and advice on how to mentor, hire and support women entrepreneurs in their own region."
"Vital Voices invests in women business leaders because we recognize the connection between women's leadership and sustained economic growth," said Vital Voices CEO Alyse Nelson. "We commend JW Marriott for demonstrating a long-term commitment to increasing women's economic opportunities, and are proud to partner at this critical time of economic recovery and resurgence to provide comprehensive support that enhances women's decision-making power and effectiveness, and enables women to grow their businesses and ultimately increase their positive impact on societies around the world."†
As part of its commitment to supporting women's leadership in the economy, JW Marriott will continue to source products for its hotels from women-owned businesses, including those affiliated with WeConnect, which was also represented at the luncheon by IBM executive Cathy Rogers.† Currently, JW Marriott supports female entrepreneurs at many of its properties around the world.† For example, four of the five spa amenity lines carried by Saray Spa at the Emirates Group-owned JW Marriott Marquis Dubai were founded by visionary women with a passion for natural, healthy, and results-driven skincare. They include local Dubai Dr. Lamis Hadmanom, creator of the Shiffa line, and Geraldine Howard, founder of Aromatherapy Associates, a JW Marriott brand signature partner.† Other JW Marriott brand partners include Keri Glassman, the renowned nutritionist and author and Christie's Auction House.
In 2012, Marriott International spent $257 million with more than 5,000 women-owned businesses in North America alone, while the JW Marriott brand spent nearly $15 million with over 950 Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) in the United States.† Across its portfolio, Marriott International purchases 10 percent of its products from women-owned businesses, including everything from chefs' hats to quality meats in China. The company is also active in the WeConnect worldwide network, which supports the development and certification of small and medium enterprises owned by women. Marriott has also been honored by WBENC, the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, for its commitment to supplier diversity.