Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, says paid family leave ‘is not just about the mom.’
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has been hitting the phones, calling members of Congress to garner support for paid family leave in the United States.
“I just get the phone number, and I call and have a conversation,” she told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday. “People are pretty surprised, I think.”
Meghan’s outreach comes as Democrats have debated whether to include paid leave in a sweeping policy bill. The United States is the only rich country that does not have national paid maternity leave. The administration has met with business leaders to underscore the importance of paid family leave to the economy, with the share of women working for pay at its lowest level since 1986.
“This is one of those issues that is not red or blue,” Meghan said. “It sets us up for economic growth and success, but it also just allows people to have that very sacred time as a family.”
Meghan added, “it takes strong men, modern men, to really understand they benefit from it as well” and that “it is not just about the mom.”
Meghan also addressed “ambition,” which she said has become a “trigger word” for some, particularly when applied to women.
“There is nothing wrong,” she said, with women talking about “success, ambition, or financial prowess.”
Among Meghan’s recent projects, she and her husband, Prince Harry, have joined Ethic, a fintech asset manager in the fast-growing environmental, social and governance, or E.S.G., space, as “impact partners” and investors. Ethic has $1.3 billion under management and creates separately managed accounts to invest in social responsibility themes.
Mellody Hobson, the co-chief executive and president of Ariel Investments, who joined Meghan at the summit, said she has occasionally felt she needs to manage differently as a female boss.
“I have found myself having, at times, to modulate myself in order to win,” said Ms. Hobson. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes I can also be big.”
Ms. Hobson and Meghan also addressed workplace diversity initiatives.
“I do believe the number-one beneficiary of diversity initiatives in this country has been white women,” Ms. Hobson said. “I think the problem is that there is this scenario that is created, and it is a zero-sum game — and it is not.”