Wise Words from Wise Women
Ellen Kullman, the former CEO of DuPont now using her experience and power to co-chair the Paradigm for Parity. Michelle Clayman, a money manager whose impact on women's issues is cemented by her endowment of the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. Gloria Steinem, whose newest project is a book about the black women leaders of the feminist movement. All of these accomplished women and more were featured at a conference we attended this week focused on women and how they leverage their personal, professional and financial capital to enrich their lives and create change. The conference was sponsored by Evercore Wealth Management's Wise Women program.
Ellen Kullman had words of wisdom about both her former CEO life and her new passion. First, there is no work/life balance, so don't seek it. Second, leadership is about making sure your people know they are making a difference, and that you are doing what is good for them and for the company. To be more effective, she changed her style from "authoritative and dictatorial to collaborative and inclusive," though she knew having a reputation for being tough makes it easier to be less so. An early combatant against gender discrimination, she was pushed to activism because she is angry that our daughters still face it, but, she warned, don’t bash men over the past, focus on change going forward.
Tracy Chadwell, one of the very few female founders of funds, invests with a gender lens, focusing on female founders. We loved her description of one of her "silver tech" investments. Silvernest, a roommate matching service for Boomers with additional security and insurance that allows folks to stay in their homes. What a great idea!
Michelle Clayman was convinced to add her name to a Stanford building when she was told there were no other buildings named for self-made women. She dressed in pink or coral for big meetings. (We did the same, though sadly it did not result in buildings being named for us.) Her Institute not only studies, among other thing, unconscious bias but provides tools to deal with it. Money, she said, is a way to show our values and how we see ourselves. Women control 50% of personal wealth. We have power. She urged us to use it.
Gloria Steinem. Going strong at 84, with the same wonderful and self-deprecating laugh she has always had. She first focused on connections. We need to think about being linked rather than ranked, a circle rather than a pyramid. She urged us to connect, saying we need all five senses to relate to and understand each other. If we talk to each other, we realize we are not alone. And when we act together, it's political not personal. Steinem was hopeful about today and Me Too. For the first time in her life, she said, women were being believed. Bodily integrity is the basis of democracy. Why do we punish an invasion of our living room more than an invasion of our bodies? Good question!
Of course, when she said that age segregation is as bad as any other kind of segregation, we smiled broadly. We don't learn from sameness. And we older people bring hope because we remember when it was worse. The young bring anger and rebellion because they want better. Together, we will make change happen.
Jewelle Bickford. An Evercore partner. The first woman global partner at Rothschild. Her career zigged and zagged from the nonprofit world to city government to investment banking, with a long motherhood stint thrown in. We loved her passion for purpose and work. We loved learning that she was the power behind the pooper scooper law. Her career is iconic, as is her sidewalk contribution.
So thank you, Jill Faherty Lloyd of Evercore, for inviting us. And thank you too for reconnecting us with a long lost friend who went on from the law to doing all sorts of amazing things like founding EL Education, a non-profit helping to build schools in diverse communities, and serving as Interim President of Randolph-Macon College.
Can't wait to see what we all do next.