Some entrepreneurs are content to build a thriving business. Others feel compelled to expand and benefit fellow business owners by helping them tackle obstacles in their way.
Tory Burch Foundation
One long-admired example is The Tory Burch Foundation, which empowers women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education and digital resources. The Fellows Program provides 10 Fellows annually with support to grow their businesses. The Tory Burch Capital Program, powered by Bank of America, has distributed $36 million dollars in loans to 1,775 women entrepreneurs.
More than 170 women have completed an in-depth business education course through the Tory Burch Foundation cohort of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Education Program. In the past year, the Foundation provided online tools and digital education to more than 200,000 women entrepreneurs and more than 10,000 people created their business plans on ToryBurchFoundation.org.
Embrace Ambition Summit: Confronting Stereotypes and Creating New Norms
Besides empowering entrepreneurs throughout the year, The Tory Burch Foundation recently hosted the first-ever Embrace Ambition Summit: Confronting Stereotypes and Creating New Norms in New York City. The event, part of its annual #EmbraceAmbition campaign, was held at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.
The day-long forum, which Bank of America presented, comprised Inspiring presentations, conversations, personal storytelling and performances. Noted individuals in business, Hollywood, sports and politics questioned and addressed the harmful stereotypes around gender, race and sexuality in our culture.
Demonstrating the ways that artists can inspire and collaborate with business owners, talented performers enlivened the summit with their high energy. They included:
- “Winds of Change” sung by musical icon Nona Hendryx
- “Il Lamento di Federico” performed by Metropolitan Opera star Michael Fabiano
- “Figures” by Singer-Songwriter Jessie Reyez
- “Cheerleader” by Grammy-winning artist St. Vincent
- Performance by Regie Gibson, poet and educator
Featured Speakers and Panels
In addition to Tory Burch, the day was filled with inspiring speakers and stimulating panel discussions. Some of the featured speakers included:
- Actress and activist Yara Shahidi discussing her Eighteenx’18 initiative and the importance of encouraging young people to vote.
- Actress Zoey Deutch in conversation with Marley Diaz, Founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, and young activists Madison Kimrey and Naomi Wadler.
- Author of The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
- Columbia University Associate Professor Valerie Purdie Greenaway on the science of stereotypes and unconscious bias.
- Fashion Model Dilone in conversation with Director/Photographer Margaret Zhang about inclusivity in the fashion and beauty industries.
- U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn and U.S. Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, interviewed by ABC News Correspondent Deborah Roberts about stereotypes in the sporting world.
- Actress and producer Julianna Margulies on women’s roles in television.
- Katie Couric in conversation with Tory Burch about the gender revolution.
- Congressman (D-MA) Joe Kennedy III and Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy discussing women in politics and how men perceive them, interviewed by Tory Burch.
- Danica Roem, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, about making history as the first (and only) openly transgender woman to serve in a U.S. state legislature.
The thought-provoking founders, CEOs and activists at the summit also included the following:
- Michele Norris, founding director of The Race Card Project, Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, Perri Peltz, documentary filmmaker and journalist and Tina Tchen, partner of Buckley Sandler in conversation about racial stereotypes for women.
- Engineer and Founder of GoldieBlox Debbie Sterling about the importance of STEM.
- Jessica O. Matthews, founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, with Tony Tjan, managing partner of Cue Ball, and Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder and CEO of Diversity Lab and OnRamp Fellowship, interviewed by Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company about entrepreneurship and women in business.
- COO of The New York Stock Exchange Group, Stacey Cunningham on getting more women on the floor.
- Producer, writer and director Elisa Pugliese shares the story of “Frank Saladino”
- Comedian and Actress Maysoon Zayid and Actor, Producer and Director Keegan-Michael Key interviewed by George Stroumboulopoulos, television and radio host, about stereotypes in comedy.
- Activist and North Korean defector Yeonmi Park on human rights.
- President of the Tory Burch Foundation Laurie Fabiano on her personal experience with bias.
- President Emerita of Ms. Foundation for Women, Marie C. Wilson on her creation of Take Our Daughters to Work Day.
- Erin Loos Cutraro, founder and CEO of She Should Run on encouraging more women to run for office.
- Theo E.J. Wilson, community activist and poet, on including men in the conversation to empower women.
Notable Take-Away Points to Spark Further Discussion
In her opening remarks Tory Burch, CEO & founder, Tory Burch LLC & the Tory Burch Foundation, said, “We want to use today to shine a light on the sometimes-hidden biases and barriers that all women face. And we want to make sure that the conversation we start is one that has a place in it for everyone—men, this means you too, it is essential that you are a key element in the conversation about women’s rights.”
Important insights about these issues made the summit one to remember and spark ongoing discussions. Here are some of the key points:
- Tory Burch, CEO & founder, Tory Burch LLC & the Tory Burch Foundation: “I am so tired of women having to limit themselves and their ambition because they’re afraid of what somebody else might think. Here’s the thing: women aren’t the problem. Our attitudes are.”
- Yara Shahidi, actress and activist: “Equity is achieved only when we acknowledge that everyone has inalienably been given the right to exist and the right to thrive.”
- Margaret Atwood, author: “How long did it take you to write The Handmaid’s Tale, I am sometimes asked? It may look like only a year, but the real answer is four thousand years, because that’s how much of women’s history I was drawing on – and that’s how many generations of storytellers stood behind me.”
- Joe Kennedy III, congressman (D-MA): “The way that this job is constructed makes it so much harder for young female members of Congress to try to find their way through that. It took until 2018 to have a female member of the Senate be able to bring a baby onto the Senate floor. It shouldn’t take that long to get there.”
- Lindsey Vonn, U.S. Olympic gold medalist: “I personally dislike being called the greatest female athlete, because I just like to be the greatest athlete period. I have one more record to break, and then once I do that, they can’t put female in my name anymore.”
- Naomi Wadler, young activist: “There shouldn’t be an age limit to being aware and knowing and understanding the problems around you and wanting to do something about it.”
- Laurie Fabiano, president of the Tory Burch Foundation: “Until we deal with the outmoded learned behaviors, mindsets and stereotypes that are part of our culture, we will never have a level playing field in our workplaces, or in life.”
About the #EmbraceAmbition Campaign
Inspired by Tory Burch’s personal experience as a woman entrepreneur, the #EmbraceAmbition campaign was started by the Tory Burch Foundation in 2017 and aims to address the double standard that exists around ambition, which is often seen as a compliment for men and a critique of women. Last year, the campaign reached 98 percent of the world’s countries and featured a PSA video of prominent celebrities and leaders including: Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Jamie Lee Curtis, Melinda Gates, Chris Pine, Jon Hamm, Julianne Moore, Billie Jean King, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gabby Douglas. The video encouraged women to take a digital pledge to embrace ambition and share their ambition on social media.
This year, the campaign kicked off with a call to action, inviting people to design and send a personalized message honoring a woman in their life that has inspired them to embrace ambition on EmbraceAmbition.org and share their inspiring stories on social media. Celebrities and business leaders who have participated include: Barbara Corcoran, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Billie Jean King, Lilly Ledbetter, Melanie Whelan and Serena Williams.