News | March 28, 2023
Jan Jones Blackhurst blazed a trail as Las Vegas’ first woman mayor serving two terms from 1991-1999 before embarking on a gaming industry career that led her to become one of the first women inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame.
Jones Blackhurst shared insights on a variety of topics ranging from advice for women in building their careers to future prospects for the gaming industry as a leader in advancing women, as part of Sands’ In Focus DEI Conversation Series held during Women’s History Month in March.
“When I ran for mayor, not a single person thought I could win,” Jones Blackhurst said, but she proved the naysayers wrong, serving two terms and becoming one of Las Vegas’ most popular mayors. In that experience, she recognized the benefit of having the platform to get things done but understood the importance of building coalitions of support – a skill that transfers to the corporate world.
“The beauty of being elected mayor is that I was CEO of the city,” Jones Blackhurst said. “It gave me an opportunity to put together initiatives, such as alleviating homelessness and further developing the city for both visitors and residents. But in politics you have to learn how to build coalitions with multiple stakeholders to move forward. In business, the same principles apply – a big part of success is building and motivating coalitions to pursue a shared vision.”
From this perspective, she would like to see both women and the gaming industry step up to the opportunities being presented to women in the corporate world at this juncture.
“I would tell women to use their voice … women have a tendency to not apply for positions unless they feel they are 100% qualified for them; men will apply if they have 40% of the skills. Don’t be afraid to take risks.”
Similarly, Jones Blackhurst believes that the gaming industry has a tremendous opportunity to put its can-do approach to task on accomplishing gender parity. She noted that the gaming industry and Las Vegas have been filled with visionaries such as Sands’ founder Sheldon Adelson, among many others, and that these leaders built an industry that knows how to identify a vision and make it a reality. That’s why she believes the gaming industry can be on the forefront of change with respect to women’s issues.
“We still don’t have equal representation in upper levels of management,” Jones Blackhurst said. “Huge numbers of women fell out of the workforce during the pandemic. It’s time for the industry to be very intentional about achieving equal representation … there’s an opportunity for us to be leaders. We [the gaming industry] can make a very conscious commitment to having equal representation by women, say by 2030, and then aligning to do it.”
The In Focus DEI Conversation Series for Sands Team Members is one of the company’s core diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which collectively aim to build a collaborative and integrated environment in the workplace and at the company’s resorts, remove systemic barriers and create opportunities for underrepresented groups. For more information on DEI at Sands, read the company’s latest ESG Report here: https://www.sands.com/resources/reports/.