Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has hung up the phones and called members of Congress to get support for paid 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 quite surprised, I think.”
Meghan’s reach comes as Democrats debate including paid leave in a sweeping policy bill. The United States is the only wealthy country that does not have nationally paid maternity leave. The government has met with business leaders to underline the importance of paid family leave to the economy, with the proportion of women in paid work at its lowest level since 1986.
“This is one of those issues that isn’t 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 that they benefit too” and that “it’s not just about the mother.”
Meghan also spoke of “ambition,” which she said has become a “trigger word” for some, especially when applied to women.
“There’s nothing wrong,” she said, as women talked 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 ESG space, as “impact partners” and investors. With $1.3 billion under management, Ethic 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 occasionally felt she had to do things differently as a female boss.
“I’ve found that sometimes I have to modulate myself to win,” Ms Hobson said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes I can be big too.”
Ms Hobson and Meghan also spoke about diversity initiatives in the workplace.
“I believe the biggest beneficiary of diversity initiatives in this country are white women,” said Ms. Hobson. “I think the problem is that this scenario was created, and it’s a zero-sum game — and it’s not.”
Watch the full interview: