May 2 The key to America's future success lies
in helping women achieve as much as their male counterparts,
billionaire investor Warren Buffett said in an essay published
on Thursday that echoes a recent debate about gender roles in
Buffett - whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway was
recently described as the least diverse big company in America -
took to the pages of Fortune magazine to argue that not only was
helping women do well in the workplace the ethical thing to do,
it was also in a man's self-interest.
"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," Buffett wrote.
The question of women and their success in business became a
hot-button topic earlier this year after Facebook Chief
Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote "Lean In", a book
challenging male leaders to mentor more women.
Buffett's essay expands upon the theme.
"Too many women continue to impose limitations on
themselves, talking themselves out of achieving their
potential," Buffett wrote. As an example he cited Katharine
Graham, the late Washington Post CEO who he said never
conquered her self-doubt.
He also made the industrial case for boosting women in the
workplace, noting their productivity was being underutilized.
"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?" he asked.
The essay comes just two days before Berkshire's annual
shareholder meeting, where the company will ask investors to
elect New York investor Meryl Witmer to the board, making her
the third woman of 13 board members.
Berkshire moved to add Witmer to the board in early March,
around the same time that Calvert Investments released a report
on diversity practices among S&P 100 companies. Calvert said
Buffett's conglomerate ranked lowest among the group.
Berkshire has not commented to date on the report.