Recently, Warren Buffett shared some thoughts and guidance at the United State of Women Summit. After advising any entrepreneurs to start their day with a commitment to delighting customers, Buffett spoke on a panel in regards to women’s issues.
Buffett was one of very few males and alongside many young entrepreneurs— one of which was 11 year old Mikaila Ulmer, who started her own lemonade business to benefit honeybees. The panel was moderated by Dina Habib Powell, head of Golman Sachs’ Impact Investing and philanthropist.
When Powell asked Buffett about his thoughts on women’s issues, Buffett was quick to say that female involvement in the economy is necessary for a country to be prosperous, and goes on to say that without empowering women, America would be “playing with one hand tied behind its back.”
While now Warren Buffett is often associated women’s rights due to his donations to help support women’s reproductive health, he did admit that the first time he put a women on the board of Berkshire Hathaway in 2003, it was actually his wife’s idea. Now, there are three women on the board of directors out of a total of 12 positions. Buffett has said that he would like to continue promoting women to leadership positions in business, so that men will not need to be prompted to consider females as qualified candidates— much like he had to be in 2003.
Buffett also shared a story about one his successful investments that happened to be a woman’s business. When he first invested in Nebraska Furniture Mart, it was a simple furniture store owned by an illiterate 89 year old woman. Now, the business she started is the largest furnishing store in North America.
While Buffett has been known for his philanthropy work for many years, I find it refreshing that he is working to eliminate the stigma associated with women in leadership, specifically in business. With more well respected people speaking out on these issues, one day America should see equal economic opportunity between men and women.