Having you as my son has been my ultimate achievement. You are the love of my life.
Today is International Women’s Day, but this is not a good time to be a woman. I find it extremely depressing when the most qualified candidate (Hillary Clinton) can’t become the President of the United States because she’s a woman. Further, she was beat by the least qualified person (Donald Trump) who has ever run in the history of our country.
I am uneasy and restless. I feel defeated and angry. However, I will fight gender inequality by raising you to be part of the solution and not the problem. You are almost 3 years old and already you have been loved and raised by strong women: grandmas, aunts, a 70+ year old nanny who graduated from the University of Michigan, and an Eritrean nanny who cooks up delicious pasta or fried rice. You will be taught by female teachers and school administrators who provide a different kind of nurturing and care than a man could.
Your former nanny would tell you every day that she loved you—words that don’t come easily for a man.
Don’t forget all the women in your life who shaped who you are today.
Remember that you come from great privilege as a half-white male born in the U.S., raised by professional parents, to be educated in the best schools, and with so many resources and opportunities available to you. With this privilege comes responsibility.
I think through the myriad of people who have supported me, particularly in my career, both men and women who saw potential and took a chance on me at my first job out of college, at a startup, at internships and throughout my career. That is an important first step. But some of these same people held me back. Yes I will take responsibility for times that I wasn’t good enough, but it’s a widespread problem when men get promoted far more times than women—even when the women are equally or more qualified. It’s a problem when globally women earn less than men, and in the U.S. women earn $0.80 for every $1.00 men earn. It’s a fact that women are more educated, but paid less.
You are going to be an incredible leader with whatever passion you pursue. Use your privilege to fight the unconscious bias that I currently face in my own industry of financial services. A Marsh and McLennan report on Women in Financial Services 2016 noted that “At current rates of growth, financial services globally will not reach even 30 percent female Executive Committee representation until 2048.” Some of the factors that contribute to the dearth of female leadership are lack of support for family responsibilities and inflexible work options. I couldn’t agree more, as I run from bus stop or ferry to try and squeeze in as much time as possible with you despite having to go into the office.
Below is my advice for you today and every day. I hope to serve as a role model to you with these behaviors, as my most important goal in life is for you to be proud to call me your mother.
- You can always rely on me, your dad, your family, and community. But most importantly, you can always pray and turn to God. I promise he will not fail you.
- Success takes hard work, grit and persistence. I hope you never forget the Yo Gabba Gabba song that we always sing, “Practice, practice, practice. Got to, got to practice.”
- Fight for yourself and for what you deserve.
- If you see injustice or gender inequality, speak up and right the situation.
- Hire the best people to support you and mentor you, but remember that women and their perspective will make you a more successful leader.
- Give (in terms of time, volunteerism, or wealth) commensurate to what you receive.
- When you become disappointed, remember that there is something better to come.
I expect greatness from you, as I do from myself.