Billionaire Warren Buffett Calls For End To The Corporate Glass Ceiling
He may be the second richest man in the world, but Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway and the namesake of the Buffett Rule, thinks women are the key to America’s future prosperity. In an essay for Fortune (via CNN), Buffett writes, “Women are a major reason we will do so well.” He points out that America has forged most of its past success utilizing “only half of the country’s talent. For most of our history, women — whatever their abilities — have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.”
In outlining the history of the women’s movement in the piece as well as his own personal history, Buffett illustrates the challenges women have faced in America and in business—even his own sisters. He writes that “at every turn my sisters would be told — more through signals than words — that success for them would be ‘marrying well.’ I was meanwhile hearing that the world’s opportunities were there for me to seize.”
Buffett, in a remark similar the “Lean In” concept, also writes that women sometimes are their own worst enemy. “Still an obstacle remains: Too many women continue to impose limitations on themselves, talking themselves out of achieving their potential.” He highlights this with the story of his friendship with the late Katharine Graham, long the controlling shareholder and CEO of the Washington Post Co. “Kay knew she was intelligent. But she had been brainwashed — I don’t like that word, but it’s appropriate — by her mother, husband, and who knows who else to believe that men were superior, particularly at business,” he says.
Buffett also uses the essay as an opportunity to challenge the male corporate structure to make room for equally as talented women. “Fellow males, get onboard. The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be.
While it seems like the 82-year-old Buffett is forward-thinking in his business notions, he has been slow to adapt to technology. The billionaire, who famously admitted he didn’t know how to check his voice mail, has just joined Twitter. And, reports the Wall Street Journal, he still doesn’t have a computer on his desk at his office.