Just when we thought the ultimate investor had reached his own
, spikes it even higher, offering momentous advice on Twitter and
revealing that he is a feminist. Buffett highly values and
acknowledges women in the overall scheme of things, and he highly
values women in business. Buffett wants women to value themselves
more highly than our social conditioning and to shatter the
fun-house mirror that deforms our self-worth. In his essay,
Buffett shares a lucid example and commentary about his friend,
the late Katharine Graham, publisher and longtime CEO of the
Washington Post Company (
Leave it to
to pack a global evolutionary punch in the 140-character message
allowed by Twitter. Guru Buffett tells the man's world of
investing and business to wake up to the real value of women. He
"Women are a major reason we will do so well... So, my fellow
males, what's in this for us? Why should we care whether the
remaining barriers facing women are dismantled and the fun-house
mirrors junked? Never mind that I believe the ethical case in
itself is compelling. Let's look instead to your self-interest."
Buffett relinquished his Twitter-innocence on May 2 when he
tweeted his first digital proclamation: "Warren is in the House."
The Wall Street Journal responded with a Twitter welcome: "Pigs
aren't flying, lambs aren't lying down with lions, and hell isn't
getting any cooler. But
is joining Twitter."
Buffett has tweeted only twice since May 2, 2013 and already has
412,577 followers. He is currently following no one, in true
billionaire fashion. His second tweet is especially meaningful to
investors and the business world:
"Read my new essay on why women are key to America's prosperity."
Buffett's essay explains:
"In the flood of words written recently about women and work, one
related and hugely significant point seems to me to have been
neglected. It has to do with America's future, about which --
here's a familiar opinion from me -- I'm an unqualified optimist.
Now entertain another opinion of mine: Women are a major reason
we will do so well.
"Start with the fact that our country's progress since 1776 has
been mind-blowing, like nothing the world has ever seen. Our
secret sauce has been a political and economic system that
unleashes human potential to an extraordinary degree. As a result
Americans today enjoy an abundance of goods and services that no
one could have dreamed of just a few centuries ago.
"But that's not the half of it -- or, rather, it's just about the
half of it. America has forged this success while utilizing, in
large part, 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
"Despite the inspiring 'all men are created equal' assertion in
the Declaration of Independence, male supremacy quickly became
enshrined in the Constitution. In Article II, dealing with the
presidency, the 39 delegates who signed the document -- all men,
naturally -- repeatedly used male pronouns. In poker, they call
that a 'tell.'
"Finally, 133 years later, in 1920, the U.S. softened its
discrimination against women via the 19th Amendment, which gave
them the right to vote. But that law scarcely budged attitudes
and behaviors. In its wake, 33 men rose to the Supreme Court
before Sandra Day O'Connor made the grade -- 61 years after the
amendment was ratified. For those of you who like numbers, the
odds against that procession of males occurring by chance are
more than 8 billion to one.
"When people questioned the absence of female appointees, the
standard reply over those 61 years was simply "no qualified
candidates." The electorate took a similar stance. When my dad
was elected to Congress in 1942, only eight of his 434 colleagues
were women. One lonely woman, Maine's Margaret Chase Smith, sat
in the Senate.
"Resistance among the powerful is natural when change clashes
with their self-interest. Business, politics, and, yes, religions
provide many examples of such defensive behavior. After all, who
wants to double the number of competitors for top positions?
"But an even greater enemy of change may well be the ingrained
attitudes of those who simply can't imagine a world different
from the one they've lived in. What happened in my own family
provides an example. I have two sisters. The three of us were
regarded, by our parents and teachers alike, as having roughly
equal intelligence -- and IQ tests in fact confirmed our
equality. For a long time, to boot, my sisters had far greater
"social" IQ than I. (No, we weren't tested for that -- but,
believe me, the evidence was overwhelming.)
"The moment I emerged from my mother's womb, however, my
possibilities dwarfed those of my siblings, for I was a boy! And
my brainy, personable, and good-looking siblings were not. My
parents would love us equally, and our teachers would give us
similar grades. But 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.
"So my floor became my sisters' ceiling -- and nobody thought
much about ripping up that pattern until a few decades ago. Now,
thank heavens, the structural barriers for women are falling.
"Still an obstacle remains: Too many women continue to impose
limitations on themselves, talking themselves out of achieving
their potential. Here, too, I have had some firsthand
"Among the scores of brilliant and interesting women I've known
is 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.
"When her husband died, it was in the self-interest of some of
the men around Kay to convince her that her feelings of
inadequacy were justified. The pressures they put on her were
torturing. Fortunately, Kay, in addition to being smart, had an
inner strength. Calling on it, she managed to ignore the baritone
voices urging her to turn over her heritage to them.
"I met Kay in 1973 and quickly saw that she was a person of
unusual ability and character. But the gender-related self-doubt
was certainly there too. Her brain knew better, but she could
never quite still the voice inside her that said, "Men know more
about running a business than you ever will."
"I told Kay that she had to discard the fun-house mirror that
others had set before her and instead view herself in a mirror
that reflected reality." Then," I said, "you will see a woman who
is a match for anyone, male or female."
"I wish I could claim I was successful in that campaign. Proof
was certainly on my side: Washington Post stock went up more than
4,000% -- that's 40 for 1 -- during Kay's 18 years as boss. After
retiring, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her superb autobiography.
But her self-doubt remained, a testament to how deeply a message
of unworthiness can be implanted in even a brilliant mind.
"I'm happy to say that funhouse mirrors are becoming less common
among the women I meet. Try putting one in front of my daughter.
She'll just laugh and smash it. Women should never forget that it
is common for powerful and seemingly self-assured males to have
more than a bit of the Wizard of Oz in them. Pull the curtain
aside, and you'll often discover they are not supermen after all.
(Just ask their wives!)
"So, my fellow males, what's in this for us? Why should we care
whether the remaining barriers facing women are dismantled and
the fun-house mirrors junked? Never mind that I believe the
ethical case in itself is compelling. Let's look instead to your
"No manager operates his or her plants at 80% efficiency when
steps could be taken that would increase output. And no CEO wants
male employees to be underutilized when improved training or
working conditions would boost productivity. So take it one step
further: If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component
of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn't
you want to include its counterpart?
"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. We've seen what can be
accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you
visualize what 100% can do, you'll join me as an unbridled
optimist about America's future." (Source: Fortune, May 2, 2013)
Accept no substitutes for Buffett's twitter account; this one is
the Guru himself.
Follow on Twitter: @WarrenBuffett
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