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- Ladies and gentlemen, Dyllan McGee.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Hello, everyone!
Welcome to the 2018 MAKERS Conference!
We are so thrilled to be here at the beautiful NeueHouse in the heart of Hollywood, where a whole new kind of earthquake began this fall. Women stood up, and the old boys fell down. And at MAKERS, we are all over this. MAKERS is a feminist media brand that has been a megaphone for women's voices for six years now. I can't believe it.
We are very proud to be part of the Oath Board of Oath. And we have the Oath Board of Advisors here with us tonight. Oath Board of Advisors, can you please stand?
Thank you Abby. Yay! Thank you. Thank you. So at MAKERS, we tell stories of groundbreaking women, and many of whom have been raising their voices for decades. Gloria Steinem.
Betty Reid Soskin.
I mean, ladies, we know the time's up, right? Yes! So over the course of the next three days, you're going to hear from women and men who have not only raised their voices, but have taken it a step further into action, because our voices are taking us so far. But it's really the action that's going to take us to the next level. So that is why on our final day, we're doing something new, team. Our MAKERS @ Board of Advisers. And I want each and every one of you to stand right now. MAKERS @ Board of Advisers.
OK, stay. Look at all these women. Don't be shy. No, stay, stay. OK. Each one of these women is going to get up on this stage and make bold and exciting pledges and commitments not just to say more, but to do more. It's going to be incredible, so don't miss out Wednesday morning. OK, other things that are new this year, men.
Right? We've got a lot of them in the audience. There they are. There they are!
Some of them are even going to come up on the stage. And we hope that all of you on the Livestream, we hope there are men out there, too. You guys are the ones who get it. You're not buying into the old boys' club anymore. You're willing and want to join the Girls Club, and let me tell you something about the Girls Club. We will never, ever discriminate against anyone for gender, race, ethnicity, orientation. So ladies, let them in!
And then there's the girls. And this time, I mean the next generation. I mean this step team over here.
Everything we do at MAKERS with an-- is with an eye towards your future, a future that is not just female, but also feminist, because it's that mindset that's really going to make change.
[APPLAUSE] DYLLAN MCGEE: It only took me a minute to now we had to get Liza Koshy to the MAKERS stage. Ladies and gentlemen, Liza Koshy!
LIZA KOSHY: Raise your voices!
Let me hear that [INAUDIBLE]. Let me hear your female sin! Oh, too much? Hey! I'm having an adrenaline rush!
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah.
LIZA KOSHY: I have an estrogen rush.
DYLLAN MCGEE: OK.
LIZA KOSHY: Hey, I need some help. When I say may, you say ker. May, ker.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Oh, I like it.
LIZA KOSHY: May, ker. All right. All right. How are you guys doing tonight? Thank you so much.
DYLLAN MCGEE: OK.
LIZA KOSHY: Thank you, thank you.
DYLLAN MCGEE: You know, the funny thing about Liza--
LIZA KOSHY: Oh, lord--
DYLLAN MCGEE: Is I have to admit this to all of you is-- is that I think I may have met my match. Liza Koshy may have more energy than Dyllan McGee.
LIZA KOSHY: No way. No way.
DYLLAN MCGEE: You do your thing, honey. I'm leaving you on this stage.
LIZA KOSHY: We're both taller than this. That's my success story.
DYLLAN MCGEE: We are. We are. We're both five feet tall. All right, Liza Koshy!
LIZA KOSHY: Thank you. Oh, give it for Dyllan. Y'all, please give it up for Dyllan.
All right. Woo, goodness gracious. That is very-- I'm very small. Hi. How are you? I am very, very nervous to be here but I am very excited to raise my voice, so thank you for having me. Hi. I'm Liza Koshy, and that video made me look crazy, which means that it was accurate, because I am.
I spend-- I am just so honored and so flattered. And honestly, I was really confused as to how I got here.
I-- I don't know how I had the privilege of speaking to an enormous room of amazing badass women and supportive ass men, but I am here. And I would love to think Henry for having been in my age demographic and for having great taste in people he watches. So thank you, Henry. Henry going to keep me employed, y'all.
But I am so excited to raise my voice here today. I am not a public speaker by trade, and you guys can tell. I usually speak in private, and then I press a button to make it public. Millennials.
I am a millennial that creates for Gen Z, a.k.a. Henry. My creations began on an app called Vine. And now, Vine allowed me to create videos that were six seconds long, and now, it allows me to create nothing. Rest in peace, Vine.
Too soon. I'm sorry. Now, six seconds wasn't enough. And as you can see, I enjoy talking a lot and being extra obnoxious, so I explore the world of YouTube to see what I could create on there, and see if anybody would be down to listen to little old me, and they did. Now, 13 million people do. And I don't know what's wrong with them. But hey, you made them, OK? They're your kids, not mine.
But you raised them right, though. But for some reason, they put up with me, and they're willing to watch what I put up. So from writing, to shooting, to editing, to creating sketches, and bits, and characters from the voices that are inside my head-- y'all saw that-- they watch what I do, and what I do is what I love. And I'm just so grateful that they do. But with this love, and with love in general, comes responsibility.
Now, it is an honor to have the platform that allows me to communicate with our future leaders, and future entrepreneurs, and strong young boys and girls, and the future even stronger men and women. And it's amazing to be able to speak to them and speak their language. It's weird. They use, like, pound signs as hashtags. It's crazy, y'all.
But I am very proud to speak lightheartedly of topics they relate to and will learn of more as they develop and grow and raise their own voice, such as stereotypes, sexism, anxiety. And I take so much pride in having created this lighthearted world for them to speak their own voices, and share through their own comments, and relate to me on that different level.
But the reason why my voice is heard is thanks to those who have raised theirs before me. And I am thankful to have been raised by three amazing, strong women. No, I do not have three moms, although it is 2018, and we can do anything now. But I have an amazing, beautiful mother that raised me, and two strong older sisters, and an incredibly supportive father who allowed me to come out here and be this insane for the rest of the world.
So I was encouraged to be myself, and encouraged to be confident, and encouraged to be heard. And now, I'm-- not only do I have a platform online, but a platform I'm standing on today, so I'm very grateful for that. But-- thank you.
But I wouldn't be able to do what I do if I wasn't inspired by the amazing voices of women in this audience tonight, voices from the audience before me, including Amy Richards, who may be backstage right now, I think. But she is an amazing human being who I met at a dinner with these awesome ladies organized in conjunction with YouTube, Natacha Hildebrand and Betsy Rosenberg, who are the dynamic duo behind Doyenne.
They're a female-led line dedicated to curious conversations, and honestly opened my brain up, opened my world up into talking, and speaking, and using my platforms to really heighten my own voice and raise my own voice. But it was an amazing dinner that connected me with Amy. So I'm-- she's not back stage. She's right there. But-- but thank you.
And then the ladies of Bliss, hello. I am just incredibly-- your story is just incredible. And these women inspired a nation with an award winning documentary, "Step." And they are now taking-- they're taking in the lessons that they've learned, and teaching it to the world, and teaching it to a generation that I am also trying to speak to, so just--
You, thank you. Thank you. That was awful.
If y'all need a member, please let me know. I got better rhythm than that. That was pretty bad.
But thank you, and just absolutely beautiful. Regina Wilson in audience tonight, if you wouldn't mind raising your hand, because I'm not sure where everybody's at. Oh, my goodness. Hello. I'm so sorry. Regina Wilson, y'all don't know, but she remains 1 of only 10 African-American women on the New York Fire Department, which consists of more than 10,000 firefighters and officers. She was a first responder in 9/11-- a first responders in 9/11. So I have to say one more time, just please give it up for Regina. Thank you for being here.
And of course, Gloria Steinem.
I don't know where to start. Where's she at? Oh, [INAUDIBLE]. This-- woo. OK, I just don't know where to start with you. I have to talk to you later. I'll force you to talk to me later. Thank you. Tamika Catchings, where's she in the audience tonight? Yeah, right there, Tamika Catchings, please give it up.
Yes, give it up. Former WNBA player who embraced what others would call a disability and made it her sixth sense on the court. Still one of the best players ever in the WNBA today. Woo, raise your voice for Tamika one more time, please. Please, please, please.
And Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, I am so sorry, girl. I got a foreign last name, too. My bad. But this rock star, where's she at? Where's she at? I just saw-- did I see her? Oh, she's on the screen. There we go. There we go, reference. This rock star of a woman created MuslimGirl, which is a blog and YouTube channel and a movement that goes to take back the narrative about misleading misconceptions surrounding Islam, and specifically in and around women. Please, please raise your voice so loud for Amani.
Now, these are just a few of the incredible women that I am learning from, and who are just a few that inspire what I am currently doing. I'm trying to apply the lessons that I've learned from all of them into what I do moving forward with my life.
Now, I am extremely proud to be raising my voice on a show I am making right now called "Liza on Demand." Yes, my name is in the title. Don't worry. I'm humble.
But not too humble. Look at my sweatshirt. That's right. Uh-huh. I got it from my incredible co-writers, and co-creators, and show runners, and amazing just overall badasses, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont. They are just incredible creative people who are woke and are absolutely amazing. We have a half-- over half female cast and crew, and are all helping me raise my voice through entertaining, storytelling, and being completely unapologetic about who I am as a strong female lead.
So the show's themes of feminism and strength really carry through the entire storyline in each episode, and from being catcalled, from being told to smile, beautiful, from saying that I can't do a job because it's for a man. This show gives those archetypes the not always perfectly manicured middle finger and a humor--
All through humor with a smile and a message. And that humble plug being said, go check it out.
I am honored to contribute to the foundation laid before me by you incredibly strong women in the audience. And by-- I-- I am actually proud to share my platform so that all may be heard. I'm talking of generations before me and generations ahead of me. I'm very, very excited to just be someone contributing to the time that is now, because time's up.
But I am proud to be raising my voice, and I am so excited for yours to keep raising over the next three days and beyond, baby, because this is what it is for the rest of our life and for the rest of our generation is what we're doing now. Just going to keep raising and keep yelling even louder. So thank you guys so, so, so very much, and thanks for listening.
Oh, that's my cue. All right. See you later. I think I'll keep running. Hold on.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Ava DuVernay.
AVA DUVERNAY: Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. It's so funny, wherever I go, I know I'm going to hear glory. I walk out, they play Glory. It's going to follow me forever, but I don't mind. Listen, I'm here today-- this is Makers, let's give it around, I'm really excited that this is getting started. Really cool, really cool. We're starting it off with some tremendous, tremendous women. No time to waste, I'm just going to get them on out here, and we're going to have a conversation about Time's Up. Because it is. Here we go, Maha Dakhil, Rashida Jones, Melina Matsoukas, Natalie Portman, Tina Chen, Nina Shaw, and Jill Soloway.
This is basically the Avengers. In real life. So happy to be here with you all, and what we're really just going to do is dive into Time's Up, a real intimate conversation about the inner workings, the origins, the future, the intention, so that we can all leave here on the exact same page. That it goes beyond a cool thing that happened at the Globes, or some headlines, and you will really get inside of it and know exactly what we're doing, right? All right, so what the hell is this thing? Who can give us the overview, the logline, for folks who've never heard of Time's Up? Maha.
MAHA DAKHIL: Hi, everybody. Time's Up. Well, the overview and the origin, it really began when Donald Trump was elected. And it was a shot heard around the nation. And I like to think that Time's Up is born of a collective consciousness. I think the reason why this came together so quickly and so speedily, you know, specifically in response to the allegations that you've all heard in Hollywood in terms of sexual harassment. But I think even before that, I think women have been feeling very marginalized and oppressed since, you know, this shocking turn of events happened in our country. And when, in Hollywood, it happened in such a affronting way, we had to respond to it.
So, in terms of how it began, it began in so many different ways. But a few of my colleagues, Michelle Kydd Lee, Hylda Queally, Christy Haubeggar, a few of us sat around and basically just made a list of all the women we knew who were as outraged. And one good thing about agents is we can convene easily and so we invited all these folks and dozens of others of incredibly courageous, wonderful women in our industry to sit around a table and start brainstorming about what we could do.
AVA DUVERNAY: I think it's important to know who the "we" is. So you have agents, you hire private lawyers, you have writers, producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, public advocates, the group is pretty large. It is really multifaceted and very robust. Really dynamic when you get in the room with all of these women that touch different parts of the entertainment industry in different categories. Jill, can you talk a little bit about, because I know that you've been, you know, facilitating some of the smaller convenings.
JILL SOLOWAY: Yeah.
AVA DUVERNAY: But how is it to have all of these women in a room together, and these are powerful, powerful woman, OK? How do we manage that?
JILL SOLOWAY: Yeah, I mean Ava, you know. It's like a dream come true, right? What is happening? We've been, we've all been waiting for this moment. And so you get in that room at CAA with these women around this huge table, and you go, OK we're all here, and this is real, and the revolution is alive, and let's do it. And it's just so exciting. And to me the thing that's most exciting is a sense of collaboration, where there isn't that question usually of politics, where it's like, well who's going to do that, and whose job is that. Well, that's not my thing.
We're all just saying yes and, yes and, what you want me to do? I got this. Just people are all, you know, filling in this space with their enthusiasm and joy for revolutionary connectivity and changing the world together. And for me, when I saw the Golden Globes and I was like, holy shit. Like, we took over a thing. We took over an awards show, and it worked. I mean.
AVA DUVERNAY: In a very small amount of time, too.
JILL SOLOWAY: Yes, it's just like insane.
AVA DUVERNAY: It is, it is. It's dynamic. It's beautiful to watch and to feel. Nina, can you talk a little bit about the mission? Just the overall mission. We'll let the lawyer do the legality. Let us know what the mission is.
NINA SHAW: It's very simple, it's equity and safety in the workplace. And that can really, you know we like to say at Time's Up we can do anything, but we can't do everything. So the goal was to set a mission that really related not just to the entertainment industry, and frankly, not just to women. That's really covered the cross section, and everyone relates to it. And I think that one of the wonderful things about coming out the way we did at the Golden Globes, or really in January 1st in the different publications, is that we were focused on not just our industry. We were focused on a group of women who had written to our actress sisters in solidarity, and we were writing back to them.
AVA DUVERNAY: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that's important when you hear the logline it's equity and safety in the workplace. One of the things that Time's Up is doing is to really make that intersectional. And I was wondering Rashida if you could talk a little bit about that. Not only being focused on women, or even men who are dealing only with sexual harassment, but it's really about an equity and a safety in all its permutations throughout the industry, right?
RASHIDA JONES: Yeah, completely. Well I think one of the things we were forced to look at when we we're asking for something is what do we want for ourselves and how do we make change in our own backyard first. And I think the biggest thing is we want our industry to reflect the world. And the world's changed. And Hollywood has got to change with it.
So, with that in mind, you know, I think everybody here and everybody in the movement kind of acknowledges that there is no change unless you bring every single person along who has spent time being marginalized, harassed, assaulted. Whether that means you're a person of color, or whether that means you're a woman, whether you know whether that means you're a disabled person, like there's so many people who have been ignored as we deal with the long tail of the patriarchy, frankly. So for us, I think, intersectionality is the hub, it is the absolute centerpiece of everything that we do.
AVA DUVERNAY: Tina, can you give us, you know I have to ask you the heavy lifting questions. Can you talk a little bit about the strategy going forward, specifically as it relates to the Legal Defense Fund?
TINA CHEN: Well, I'll tell you, one of the great things about Time's Up, and I think the reason it has spoken to so many people across the country, is that everyone here in the entertainment industry really knew they wanted to reach out beyond this industry, and really reach folks who don't have as much means and privilege. And an ability to speak for themselves without fear of losing their jobs or harming their family. And we have real life examples of that, where people who were speaking out are getting sued, you know, for defamation to silence them. Or low income women who don't, you know, have enough damages that a lawyer will actually take their case. So the folks here, the leaders at Time's Up really said we want to do something. And that's where, so I'm a lawyer, that's my background.
AVA DUVERNAY: That why I ask you legal questions.
TINA CHEN: But we knew the only way to help-- You know, one of the real tangible ways that people need help right now is to get them lawyers. Is to get lawyers across the country and sometimes a lot of the big firms that do pro-bono work, can't do this work because they've got conflicts with big companies. So you've got small lawyers, who can't afford to do this for free. And that's why we have this Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.
So $20 million in a month from 20,000 donors across the country, from $5 to millions of dollars. It's been an amazing outpouring of support. Over 200 lawyers have signed up. But I will tell you, we've had over 1,000 requests for help in a month. You know, so the need is clearly there.
AVA DUVERNAY: I haven't heard that number.
TINA CHEN: From all industries. Farm workers, hotel workers, you know, steel workers. I had this steel worker from Indiana reach out to my office. So we've got folks who we thought that was the case, that there are people hurting right now. And Time's Up has really spoken to them. And it's spoken to men and women across the country who need help. Need help getting safety and equity in the workplace.
NINA SHAW: It really spoke to our need to take action. That we didn't want to be a group of people who got in a room and talked about the changes that we wanted to see made. We wanted to be part of that change. And it was so important for us to come out in our very beginning with an action oriented item. What are we going to do? We're going to set up this fund, we're going to invite people who, all people, not just women, not just men, people who fall within the criteria, and then we are going to do something. And that has been I think the hallmark of us as a group. We don't want to just be talk.
TINA CHEN: So I have to give a nod to our sisters that the National Women's Law Center, which is a 45-year-old women's rights organization in Washington D.C. We kind of dropped this idea on them right around Thanksgiving and said, we want to announce it January 1st. So, like, get used to that idea. And they came on board, and it was a big reach for them. But they've given us the infrastructure, the expertise, you know, to get this stirred up. You know, we wouldn't be able to be answering 1,000 requests right now without their assistance. So NWLC.org, if lawyers want to volunteer. For people who are out there watching, if you're a lawyer and you want to volunteer, go to NWLC.org. And we still need donations, so go to the GoFundMe page for Time's Up. And, you know, spread it around.
AVA DUVERNAY: Say the URL again.
TINA CHEN: So it's NWLC, National Women's Law Center, dot org. NWLC.org. If you need help, there is a button on there for you to fill out a form to request help. If you are a lawyer and are able to volunteer your services, please go on there and fill out the form to volunteer. And anyone who can donate or wants to organize a fundraising drive, the GoFundMe page for Time's Up is still up there and we are still expanding our goal because anybody who knows what it's like to pay legal fees knows $20 million is a lot of money, but not a lot of money. It's not that much.
AVA DUVERNAY: Need more. Yeah. One of the things that I really loved about Time's Up is a quest to, and it's just getting started, but a real desire to be intersectional. And I say that word again because it's just incredibly important if we're talking about inclusively that we not just have a narrow view that applies only to us. So me, as a black woman, I can't get completely tunnel vision on the issues of black people and women. I also have to think of native people, I also have to think of Latino people, I also have to think of trans people. I have to think of other people who are not me who need to be included in this conversation. Sometimes that's a push.
And Melina and I work on, she really leads up our, I love the name of the committee. We have a bunch of different committees in Time's Up, but the hottest sounding committee--
NINA SHAW: And hottest.
AVA DUVERNAY: And hottest, the one that's called WOCC, because it's women of color committee. Get it? So she heads that up and we're just getting, we're just trying to find our legs inside of the organization, but I'm going to honestly talk about just transparently how, you know, the challenges that we're coming into and kind of carving identity within a larger movement, and what the goals are for that committee.
MELINA MATSOUKAS: Well like you said, we believe in intersectionality, and there's certain things that affect us that don't affect everybody, and we have to embrace our individualness, you know? And so, woke, stay woke. It's all about making sure all the initiatives with Time's Up include people of color and don't just speak to women's rights, but, you know, people of color we're the most marginalized group of people, historically. And we really want to dismantle systematic racism within our industry, you know? And educate people on bias and prejudice. And, you know, when you talk about safety, there's also racial safety. When you step onto a set and you're the only woman of color on set, like, you're in an unsafe environment. You know, and it's unfair. We're really all joining together to dismantle that power structure. And I think it really starts with the power structure. Who's in the room? Who's making the decisions? And we're trying to change that.
AVA DUVERNAY: Yeah. Absolutely. One thing that I think is so powerful about Time's Up, and I really think, I mean, I know that we would not have had the goodwill and the attention from the press and from the public that we've had if it wasn't for our actress sisters, truly. They are the face, and they put their faces and their careers on the line in a way that a lot of us who work behind the scenes, you know. We can kind of move in and more stealthily, and so I just want to salute our actress sisters, and one of our big leaders in that space is Natalie.
I was going to ask you, it's been a month. I mean, this is crazy. And the reason why this has been able to have such velocity is because of the high profile nature. I just want to let people know, these actresses are, they are warriors. I want to talk a little bit about that contingent because I want to make sure people know it's not just the face of a bunch of people working behind the scenes. Like, you all are real true leaders and architects of this. So just to talk a little bit about how the artists and the actors are fitting into the overall strategy and what those meetings are like.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Well, thank you, that's very kind. And it's been really incredible to gather actresses, because I think something that we realized was that we're usually the only woman at work. And so like many other industries, we walk onto a nearly all-male set and we're usually alone and we rarely get to interact with each other. I've never had, I think Rashida is my only close actress friend until now.
AVA DUVERNAY: We think you all just hang out together.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Yeah.
RASHIDA JONES: Now we do.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Now we do. And so the power of just all being in the room together and sharing our experiences and realizing how much we've been endangered by being isolated, by being the only woman in the work environment. How that extends to other industries too, where if you're the only woman in the room, that endangers you, it isolates you, it prevents you from sharing stories. So if there are predators, you don't talk to each other. So there's this kind of secondary thing about, you know, being the only woman at the table or whatever that is very isolating and endangering. And how empowering it is to be in a room, to be on the same team, to say we refuse to be pitted against each other. There's not only one spot. We're going to make room for all of us.
It's really, really powerful. And it's been really incredible. And we have all these new friends. And it's really great. I also have to, I'm kind of distracted right now, because I see, is there some Baltimore in the house? I love you. I'm freaking out, your movie. Did you guys see Step? If you're in this room, you have to see Step if you haven't seen it. You people are inspiring and incredible. I'm distracted, sorry.
AVA DUVERNAY: Fantastic
TINA CHEN: Called out by Natalie Portman.
AVA DUVERNAY: I want to talk a little bit about, how we're doing on time? Oh yep, there it is. Everybody is very organized here except me. There we go. I wanted to talk a little bit about these big events and how we are essentially just hijacking events. Janelle at the Grammys and you know everyone at the Globes, and we're constantly thinking about ways to take these large cultural moments, shift the conversation when everyone is there. But I want to back up because the Globes was such a, it was a cultural phenomenon in the moment that it happened. That permeated way outside of the room. That signaled a coming together of two, I won't say campaigns, but two different ideas about how to achieve equality, Me Too and Time's Up. And who can talk a little bit about the beautiful kind of intertwining and integration of those two, not in a co-opting of one or the other, but I thought it was a very beautiful side by side, harmonius proclamation of what the two mean. Can anyone give definition to what one is and what the other is and talk about that moment?
JILL SOLOWAY: I mean, I think about it as simply, me too, so time's up. It's all of us, so no more. They just kind of connect.
AVA DUVERNAY: But they are two distinct groups. One of them, you know, founded Me Too, founded years before this current moment, by Tarana Burke, right? And that needs to be acknowledged. Woman of color, alone, does this hashtag, is putting a lot of velocity and attention and grassroots organizing around this, that meets with our moment as Hollywood industry people who saw an opportunity to galvanize.
And I was just, I have to admit, in early meetings where they were like, Me Too activists are coming and they're going to link up with actresses on the red carpet, I was like, that disaster. I was like, don't do that, don't do that. It's not going to work. And it was harmony, and it was beautiful, and just felt so good. And it really signals what we want to be doing, which is holding hands. I'm a conspiracy theorist, I think everything is going to go wrong, so I was like, this is bad. But it was beautiful. Can you talk a little about that?
RASHIDA JONES: I think we feel that way too. I think we sort of saw the worst case scenario, we tried to work backwards from that because what was important is that everybody's acknowledged, right? From Tarana to all of the whistleblowers, it was really important for us with knowledge the brave people that got us to a point where we could have a conversation about how to move forward so this never, ever happens again. And it takes all those steps to get there. And I feel like when you look in hindsight at anything that's happening, it all looks really linear, but when it's happening it feels very stop and start, and kind of fragmented all over the place.
But I think for us, to acknowledge women who have been working in this space for so long, is part of, is moving forward. Because you look at the people who have been here for so long and working on this stuff for so long, you want to say, hey what you have done has got us to this point. So you need to come with us. We need to celebrate you, and in doing that we can all work together to move forward. Because we all want the same things. And that's the truth. And I think it's been really painful for people who do speak up and who have, you know, carried the burden of this work for a really long time to do it on their own. So our job, more than anything, is to bolster that work.
TINA CHEN: I have to say, sort of, having spent eight years in the other White House,
NATALIE PORTMAN: The good one.
TINA CHEN: You know, one of the things that I saw was, you were too fragmented as a women's movement. You know, we've been fragmented for years. And we work in our silos, but women don't live their lives in silos, right? They are doing all these things. They're struggling with their health care, and they're struggling with their childcare, and they're struggling with sexual harassment or all of these things at once. And what's great about Time's Up, as Rashida just said, is bringing everything together.
I've been working on the United State of Women, as lots of folks know, and Dylan knows because we announced the United States of Women two years ago here at Makers. And we're going to keep that going, too. And do it again and bring it to Los Angeles. So watch out for that news. But this is all about bringing everything together. And again, I have to give a lot of credit to the women of Hollywood, who really brought this together, gave voice to it. When people said to me, why did this take off? And I say, it's because people relate to Natalie Portman. And they're sitting in their kitchen table, and it's like, if it is happening to her, and then it's, I can give voice to what's happening to me. And then we can protect them, which is why we have them work that we're doing.
MAHA DAKHIL: And I think the reason that it really worked so beautifully and wasn't the disaster that I knew you were afraid it was going to be, is that it was so authentic and so heartfelt by our actresses. And on their behalf, I can say, I think people project, it must be so amazing, it's such an elitist life. But we've been sitting in these rooms and we're not meeting as actresses, agents, managers, producers, storytellers. We're meeting as women who are just using our resources to shine light on the inequality for women, for people of color, intersectional, as we say that is the forefront and DNA of Time's Up. But I think why it works so beautifully is it was authentic. And it wasn't a stunt and the desire was to profile the activists, not the actresses.
NATALIE PORTMAN: And Monica, who started the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, who reached out to us and really got--
AVA DUVERNAY: That broke it open in such a incredible way.
NATALIE PORTMAN: And she said something that was really moving, which was, she was like, we're silenced, and I'm paraphrasing, she said it much more beautifully, but we're as silenced by the shadows as we are by the limelight. That the women, the farm workers, are told no one cares about you, you're in the shadows. You can't, your voice doesn't matter. And the women in the spotlight are told, you're the elite, no one cares about you, stop whining, stay silent. And the uniformity is just like, shut up, no one cares. And all of our voices matter. Like, our voices don't matter more, our voices don't matter less, we all have stories to tell and need to stop being silent about injustice.
AVA DUVERNAY: Absolutely, well So, I wanted to talk a little bit about the Olympics and, talking about things to hijack, we'll just talk about it. No, no, but when we're thinking about what the next kind of national conversation is going to be, in a couple of weeks, I guess it's a week or something, everyone's going to be talking about that. When we have sisters who have come out and talked about the abuse that they've experienced at the hands of their own coaches, with the US gymnastics team. And just wondering as we move that idea 0 Time's Up and elongate that in other industries and realms, how do you think Time's Up will A. Support that, but also what can women in that industry do? This is an example of how the outreach can permeate different industries. If we use that as an example, how can Time's Up affect them and how can their plight affect what we were thinking about? Have we thought about the gymnasts?
MAHA DAKHIL: I mean, I think that since we have started and launched, it has become a worldwide reaction and phenomenon in a way we weren't expecting. And we know we can't answer it for everybody, but we're hoping that the work that we're doing will amplify and encourage other people in industries to convene as well. It's already beginning, where women in tech, women in advertising, women in New York are meeting tonight across industries. Women in London are meeting.
And we, the words Time's Up, which are our sister Katie McGrath and Rashida coauthored, in one of our very first meetings where we spent so much time just naming it, because we knew it was so important to find a name that was gender neutral, that was a response to the moment, and you can't believe how many names we went through. I'm going to embarrass Natalie, the spirit of Time's Up really began with the next generation. Right there in the room, she brought her daughter Amalia to the meeting and only her baby, only in true Natalie Portman elegance and strength, breastfeeding on the hand, planning the Golden Globes on the other. It really was--
NATALIE PORTMAN: I can't do it here.
MAHA DAKHIL: She almost didn't come because of child care issues, and we were like, no, this is the room. I think we are proof of concept. If you convene women in a room and you brainstorm, look what happened in a matter of weeks. Every other industry can do this, and we want to be there to support, amplify it for everyone that we can. We have no staff, but for one person. We hope to grow the infrastructure here and to project in and be hopefully, the Avengers you think that we are.
TINA CHEN: It's about sustainable change. I think what attracted me in the very first time I heard about it was that this wasn't about just getting stuck in the moment. It was about, how do we actually change our workplaces, and what can we do to actually make sustainable, lasting change. And that's, I think, for the Olympics. What can they do to help change and protect those athletes? What can we do in all of these industries? People deserve to go to work and be safe. Be able to make a living and support their families, you know? And how do we change that so everybody can do that safely and succeed in their jobs and their careers.
AVA DUVERNAY: I think one of the things that I love really love and value about Time's Up is what Nina said, is that the immediate kind of institute, the immediate triggering of the Defense Fund was actionable. It wasn't just us talking up here saying, we should do something and things need to change. That was a way that it will change. But I asked the Olympics question because, I put that to women out here who are in all kinds of different industries, or different cities that might not be a major market. People who were watching the Livestream to point out that some of the infrastructure and some of the ideas that we're working with in Time's Up are there to be duplicated.
And we're also there to learn from and to listen from folks that are doing it way better and way longer than we are, right? And so it's that exchange, but you know, we, like you said, can't touch everyone. But there's an example here, that there's a lot of information on the website. There's a lot of information in different panels that everyone's doing. Just to say this can be duplicated in smaller pods, in different categories, different industries. You don't have to have all the star power or the corporate muscle to meet together and just get in the room and start setting some committees and figuring out how to get things done.
NINA SHAW: Everyone can do something. I think there isn't a day that goes by that I, and I'm sure everyone here, doesn't get a call that says, what can I do to help Time's Up? And I always say, in your place, let's think about what you can do. When someone says something offensive, find a way to connect to them and say, listen, if you pull them aside, if you genuinely believe, listen I think you're a great person. I think you're good at heart, but let me tell you why what you just said probably made half the people in that room uncomfortable. And I want to be the person to tell you that. You can do that in your workplace, among your friends, in your social circles.
When men ask, and men ask all the time, how can we help you? How about in those rooms where you are and we are not, you be our defenders. When someone says something that you know that they would never say in a mixed group of people, you don't have to, you can just say, listen, guy, you know. Let's not go there. Because when we go there, we diminish all these women who we say we love. Or these trans people who we say we support. Or these activists who we say we believe in their causes. So there's something that everyone in this room can do in some way, and in that way we are all part of Time's Up.
AVA DUVERNAY: We have just a couple of minutes left. This is the speed round. Everybody OK? We got real glass in here? Dang, Makers. Really nice. Three rounds, going around to every warrior woman here and ask if there's one thing, logline, that you want people to know about Time's Up and you want to people to take out of this session, what would it be Jill Soloway?
JILL SOLOWAY: 50-50 by 2020. It's an initiative of Time's Up. And we can be found at 5050by2020.com. And what we're doing is going to our own leaders and demanding that we go on 50-50 leadership by 2020. Women, people of color, queer people, disabled people, and other otherized people in positions of power.
AVA DUVERNAY: Good. Rashida Jones?
RASHIDA JONES: I think that every industry deserve to be a reflection of the world the way it is now. 39 percent of this country are people of color. That number will change drastically over time, but every person, whether it's woman, person of color, queer person, disabled person, deserves to be equal. And the way for us to do it is just to encourage in our own industries, however we can, to push this message forward. However we can, we're all doing the same thing.
AVA DUVERNAY: Amen Nina Shaw.
NINA SHAW: Don't be on the outside looking in. Stand up, open that door, come through. I know it's-- And listen, as a woman of color, I really understand that a lot of times you're like, oh those white women they're just doing, don't do that. Come on, seriously. We know that happens. Don't do that. Because we don't want to be in the back when the train pulls out of the station. OK?
AVA DUVERNAY: Amen. Maha Dakhil.
MAHA DAKHIL: I am so excited. I think this is a complete cultural revolution that we're in, that we are so lucky to be alive right now in these crazy times because it is upon us as soldiers, as sisters, and with our brothers to change the world. It's happening now. It's happening overnight. Time's Up is a small reflection of that. It applies to every single person out there. And, as Nina said, you can participate just by changing your own behavior, changing your own outlook. Look at the businesses you support. Are women at the center? Are people of color at the center? Are trans? Ask those questions and there will be ripple effects for years to come.
AVA DUVERNAY: Melina Matsuokas.
MELINA MATSOUKAS: I think, speak up, educate, and fight with us to dismantle white male patriarchy.
AVA DUVERNAY: Simply put, and powerfully put. Natalie Portman.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Gather. Get together with the other women or whatever group you identify with in your workplace to discuss what you can do to change and be radical, be extreme. Be the Che Guevara you are in your dreams.
AVA DUVERNAY: And Tina Chen.
TINA CHEN: Don't be afraid. Part of why this has gone on for so long is the fear that has been imposed upon us. And the silencing that's been imposed upon us. And break through that, don't be afraid. That's why we're all together. We're all in this together. We are, you know, warriors together. That's why we have a Legal Defense Fund for people who need it. For justifiable fear for what they're going through. And that's what we've got to break through. Don't be afraid.
AVA DUVERNAY: Amen. Hashtag raise your voice. Thank you very much for having us. Appreciate you. Have a great conference.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Bailey.
JENNIFER BAILEY: America was never America to me, yet this oath I swear-- America will be, Langston Hughes.
I first learned how to raise my voice at my Grandma Vera's house on the South Side of Chicago. Like so many women of her generation, women born in the Great Depression, she and her family followed the North Star-- from Hughes, Arkansas to Chicago-- in search of a better life.
It was at her table with Miss Edith, and Miss Yvonne, and Auntie Belinda-- over pots of collard greens and black-eyed peas-- that I learned who my people were.
You see, these were working class women-- women, who for a living, lifted people as homemakers. Women who most people rendered invisible. But at the table over games of spades there was truth-telling. Truth-telling about what to do when that man touches you the wrong way at church. Truth-telling about men whose fists too often met jaws. Truth-telling and seeing one another in a society that rendered them invisible.
It was at that table that I learned, as a little black girl, that I had a voice, that I had a story that was worthy of not only being told but heard. And it was that table I had in mind when I called my friend Lennon in the fall of 2016, two weeks after the election, wondering how we as women could build new tables for people to be seen and heard, not because of what they do-- no-- but because of who they are.
That launched the People's Supper-- an alliance of a motley crew of a faith organization, a grief organization, and a radical feminist anti-harassment organization-- unexpected bedfellows-- to come together to think about how we might create a table where all belong. So over the past year, we've been hosting conversations of healing spaces for those who aren't quite ready to bridge with difference yet, and bridging spaces-- spaces I like to call the borderlands-- spaces of border crossing, where we can get to see and know one another in the fullness of who we are.
We've hosted over 1,000 of those dinners in the last year, in 124 cities and towns across the United States. Tonight, it's your turn to join the movement. It's your turn to get to know each other in a deep, heartfelt way.
So what we're going to do-- are y'all excited?
Come on. For Grandma Vera and them, are you excited?
So we invite you to join us for dinner next door, at the world famous Hollywood Palladium. You're going to exit this main entrance, and the MAKERS staff will show you on your way.
We have a special guest chef, Nancy Silverton, who is here. I hear that she won the James Beard Award in 2014. I'm a "Top Chef" fan, so I know what that means. That means she's real, real good, y'all.
And the invitation for you tonight is to strip off whatever it is you might have been carrying and lean in to sharing your stories. Thank you so much.
DYLLAN MCGEE: So, some of you were here last year, and experienced for the first time, something that we did that is so special that we were like, "We got to do it again," the amazing Kathy Najimy. Yeah, yeah. So she put together something called "Real Life Stories," and this is something that you don't see in a lot of places. This is women coming up on the stage and telling very real and raw stories of their lives. And they do it because of Kathy.
Kathy is the Makers fairy godmother. She has been so extraordinary to us, and if you know the hours that go behind the scenes into putting this together, you'd be blown away. And Kathy has done, I mean, you know, she's on, you know Veep right now. She is, you know, Graves, and all these incredible things. But what really matters to her is the real work. And I'm going to read this, because it's so inspiring.
She's currently working on a documentary to meet and understand the 53% of white women who voted for Trump. She's also working on her true passion with one of her best friends, a play about the life of Gloria Steinem. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Kathy Najimy.
I do what I want. Yes, she does. Did what you say. I work real hard every day. I'm a mother f-[BLEEP] bullet, baby, all right. I don't need a man.
KATHY NAJIMY: Wow-wee. I want to meet me after that, and I have my own theme music. I'm never leaving Los Angeles. So this is one of my favorite evenings of the year. Are you guys having a good time so far? It's so great. It's almost like a fantasy. So, our prompt from Makers this year is Raise Your Voice, although full disclosure, I have to tell you, raising my voice has never been a problem for me. Most would agree. But it's a groovy sentiment. I like it.
And in line with Raise Your Voice tonight, we've scored three of the most potent voices of their generation. Events like the Makers gala gives us a place to call our own, and to welcome 2018 with resolve, hope, commitment, and a huge mug of Grey Goose, let's hope. These next couple days were celebrating the feeling of having almost landed, almost. We're almost there. For me, as a longtime feminist, I am freaking thrilled to now be a part of the Time's Up movement. Oh, it's so rewarding.
And as you all know, Time's Up was a response to #MeToo, an unearthing of an army of pain, courage, and resolve. The only possible way to heal is together. It's not required we have to agree with each other's views, Gloria. It's not required that we have to agree with each other's views. The only possible way to heal is that we agree with lifting up each other's voices.
So, that's maybe-- that's not true, because full disclosure, I am not in line for lifting up Kellyanne Conway or Ann Coulter's voice. So not-- I wrote that, and I thought, Kathy, you're lying. You don't want to lift up everybody's voice, just those of us who are into compassion, humanity, and equality. And oh, speaking of equality, Patty Arquette asked me to remind you that our discrimination, assault, and sadness would vanish with the passing of the ERA. We have to get on that.
So, for the past six years, I've had the pleasure of working with some known women, spending time with them, helping to write, curate, and direct personal stories. Too deep for a talk show appearance, like you can't sit on the couch at Jimmy Kimmel and talk about this, and too long to tweet. And maybe, some personal info. What I can tell you is that these stories support-- that we don't-- that the response to the feeling that we don't have the right to speak up. We end up thinking of ourselves, of what, at every turn, we've been told about ourselves.
I had-- I'm going to tell a quick story. I had dinner with a bunch of people and Katie Couric a couple of months ago, and she was sitting at this long table with these young actors, and they were asking her questions and they were having this great political discussion. And at one point, I reached across and I thought, "Oh my god." I grabbed her hand and I said, "Katie, you have to run for office." And Katie Couric, the most experienced, smartest person I've ever met, said to me, "Ah, Kathy, I don't think I am smart enough." So that's the impostor syndrome at its very, very worst. Katie freaking Couric.
So, these stories are a response to that, our experience and intelligence. The bar has-- and speaking of running for office, the bar has been raised so low that it's like the limbo stick for like a Keebler elf, like anybody can run. It becomes clear that we're just one big coven of people. And in that, we gain strength, the strength that men are told from birth that they deserve. So, these personal stories, and us sharing our stories makes it easier for us to take hands, to look into each other's eyes, as Gloria says, "Don't look up, look in," and rise the hell up together.
KATHY NAJIMY: Gabourey Sidibe and I originally read through this process of creating her first piece that we're going to do tonight and it was an experience beyond translation we are so grateful to have-- from her award winning work in Precious, her hit TV show Empire and the Big C, her best seller, "This is Just My Face. Try Not to Stare," and fresh off her directing of her first film, The Tale of Four, my heart and soul friend, Gabourey Sidibe.
[MUSIC PLAYING-- QUEEN LATIFAH, "U.N.I.T.Y"] Who you calling a bitch? U N I T Y. You gotta let them know. U N I T Y. Yo, come on here we go. U N I T Y. You gotta let them know. I'm a black woman trying-- You ain't a bitch, you're a ho. Here we go. U N I T Y. You gotta let them know. U N I T Y. Come on, come on, here we go. U N I T Y.
GABOUREY SIDIBE: I want everyone to see the outfit.
[LAUGHS] Thanks. I wanted everyone to see my outfit.
Happy Black History Month, mostly white people.
Let's do it big. Let's all go see Black Panther. OK, one of the first things people ask me is, Gabourey how are you so confident? I always wonder if that's the first thing they ask Rihanna when they meet her. Ri-Ri, how are you so confident? Of course not. Everybody knows why Rihanna is confident. She's beautiful. But me? Constantly.
And they always ask the same, incredulous disbelief every, single time. You seem so confident. How is that? So what is with all this unwarranted confidence? Well when I was about 10 years old and in the fifth grade, that was me. [LAUGHS] I know, I was stunning.
Um, when I was in fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Loeb, announced that my class would be having a holiday party right before Christmas break. And she asked that we all bring snacks, and soda, and juice to share with class for the party. She also said that we have the option of cooking something for the class if we wanted to. And I was super, super excited, OK?
I immediately decided that I was going to bake gingerbread cookies and that everyone was going to love them. Doye. Right? So I told my mom my plan. And I asked her for money so that I can buy the ingredients. And she thought I should just, like, buy some cookies. But I told her that look, store bought cookies just don't have love in them. And so-- so they had to be homemade.
So I bought the mix and cookie cutters in the shape of like bells and Christmas trees-- like Christmas-y stuff, you know? And I made a practice batch of cookies that went horribly wrong, like really, really bad. But the good thing is that they were just a practice batch. And so the night before the party, I made the hero batch. And they were still terrible, but they looked a lot better. So, doing good.
So I carefully put them all into a giant Ziploc bag and I stashed them for the party, the next day. When I got to school in the morning, I just, like, could not wait until that party. I was so proud of those cookies and all of the effort and the love that I put right into them, you know? And you know, they were really pretty.
And I was starting to think you know, maybe I wouldn't just be the first black female president. You know? Like, maybe I'd also be a celebrity chef. I mean, like, why should I limit myself? Right?
So the party was set to take place during the last hour of school. And I waited excitedly for that party all day long. So finally, it's the last hours school. And it was finally party time. And my teacher asked what every one brought. And I proudly announce that I baked cookies for the class. I was even prouder knowing that, like, everyone else just bought stuff. OK? I was the only one who actually made anything because I'm just, like, a little more clever than, like, most people. You know? It was like a little, like, a better person, you know?
So as the party starts, I walk around the class and I proudly offer up these cookies to every single person in the class. And no one took a cookie-- no one. No one, except for Nicholas who-- he was the first person I offered to. But after a few of our other classmates set him straight, he actually caught up with me as I walked around the class. And he gave the cookie back-- like, that's shade, right?
But I continued my walk around the class until I ended up back at my desk with the same amount of cookies that I'd started out with. And I just sat at my desk alone, eating those gross gingerbread cookies that took me hours to make. And I ate them all by myself.
You know, I wasn't surprised. I just sort of forgot for a moment that everyone in my entire class actually hated me. I didn't have any friends at all. I actually had zero friends from fourth grade to sixth grade. I mean, who the hell was I making cookies for? I really just got so excited to bake that I'd forgotten that everyone hated my guts.
Why didn't they like me? Well, I was fat. That's true. I still am. I had dark skin and weird hair. I still do. But the truth is, this isn't a story about bullying-- OK-- or color or weight. They hated me because I was an asshole--
--like a real asshole, like a pompous asshole you guys, I swear. So like remember back like a few minutes ago when I said that I thought I was like a little bit cleverer and like a better person than most, I did believe that. And I told them that every single day. Like really, those kids couldn't get a single-- they couldn't get a word in edgewise without me cutting them off and reminding them that I was smarter, I was funnier, I was wittier-- just again, a better person.
I was always, like, really sarcastic. I always called sarcasm my birth defect. But you know, kids don't, like, get sarcasm-- stupid kids.
It's not my fault if you don't get it. I'm just saying. But they never knew what the hell I was talking about. And when they'd say, wait huh? I'd say, my God Alicia, read a book. Who was I-- asshole, right? I just spoke differently than them. I sounded more like a valley girl than a Brooklyn girl. And my classmates always asked me if I were adopted by white people. And I'd say, oh no-- both of my parents went to college.
And I was I feel like that's too advanced, like that's too advanced shade for a child, but I had it. I had it. I was a prodigy. So but, you know, actually I have to say that I'm still really proud of that. To be fair, in my neighborhood not everyone's parents had the opportunity to go to college. Most of my classmates' parents were actually teenagers when they had them. And my parents were 30 when they had me.
My father was born in Senegal. And his father was the mayor of the capital city, Dekar. And we often went back to Africa with him. My mother was a teacher in my school, which is why I went there. But also, my mom had a really great voice. And so, she was a singer. And when I was nine years old, she quit teaching in order to become a subway singer, full-time. She actually made more money singing in the subway than she ever made as a teacher.
Either way, that equaled out to me being, like, a huge snob. And I just kind of really did think I was better than the kids in my class. And I just-- it was my duty to let them know that I was better. And that's why they didn't like me, surprisingly. I think the reason I spoke so highly of myself all the time is because no one else ever did. I figured out that I was smart because when my mother yelled at my older brother she'd say, your little sister is going to pass you in school. She's going to graduate before you.
But she never turned to me and said, you are smart. What she did say was, you are fat. I got the message that I might not be pretty. I might not be normal. But I was smart, like, I had that at least. Well, why wouldn't they just say that to me? You're smart. See how easy that was? You're smart.
My dad would yell at my brother and say, Gabourey does her homework by herself. Why can't you? But he never said to me, good job. He said, you need to lose weight so that I can be proud of you. So I got made fun of at school and I got made fun of at home, too.
My older brother hated me. My dad didn't really understand me. And my mother, who was a fat little girl herself at my age, understood me perfectly but she berated me because she was so afraid of the life she thought I would lead. So I only felt safe when I was alone. And my response was always to eat more because nothing says, you hurt my feelings-- fuck you-- like a delicious cookie.
Gabourey, how are you so confident? It's actually not super easy. It's really hard to get dressed up for award shows and red carpets when I know that I will be made fun of because of my weight. There's always a big chance that if I wear purple, somebody will call me Barney-- if I wear white, a frozen turkey-- if I wear a red, a pitcher of Kool-Aid.
These are actual tweets I've gotten, you guys. Twitter will blow up with nasty comments about how that recent earthquake was caused by me running to a hot dog cart. [LAUGHS] This is super shady. I don't-- I didn't read this, but it's really funny also.
Diet or die, they say. This is what I deal with every time I put on a dress. It's what I deal with every time someone takes a picture of me. Sometimes when I'm being interviewed by a fashion reporter, I can just hear their inner dialogue in their eyes. How is she getting away with this? Why is she so confident? Like, what does she do? How is she-- how does she deal with that body? Oh my God, that body-- holy shit, I'm going to catch fat!
When I was eight, my mom moved my brother and I to my aunt's house. Her name is Dorothy Pitman Hughes and she's a feminist, an activist, and a longtime friend of Gloria Steinem. Every day, I had to get up and go to school where everyone made fun of me. And then, I had to go home where everyone made fun of me. And every day, it was really hard to get going no matter which direction I was going.
But on my way out of the house, I found strength. In the morning on my way out into the world, I passed a portrait of my aunt and Gloria together.
Side by side, they stood-- one with long beautiful hair and the other with the roundest afro I've ever seen.
They both held their fists really high in the air-- powerful, confident. And everyday, I'd leave the room my mother, my brother, and I shared. And I'd give that photo the fist right back. And I'd march off into battle. And at the end of the day when I walked back up the stairs, I'd give that photo the face again. And I'd continue my march back into more battle. And I didn't really know that I was being inspired, then. But I was. I mean, if-- if they could be that cool and that strong, like, maybe I could too.
So OK, let's go back. We're still in fifth grade. I'd just been rejected by 28 kids in a row. And now, I'm sitting alone at my desk with an empty Ziploc bag, crumbs on my lap because I ate every single one of those gross cookies. I looked at this great party that I had waited all week for that I actually wasn't invited to.
But for some reason, I got up. You know? I got up. I sat on my desk. I laughed really loud when something funny happened. And when my teacher put on music, I was the first one to get up and dance. I joined a limbo contest. And I ate chips and I ate other people's cookies. And I drank soda. And I had the best time ever. And you know why? Because I'm still an asshole. And what I wanted was more important than what those 28 other kids wanted. I wanted a party and they didn't want me to be there. But all I know is, I actually had a super good time.
So how am I so confident? Because it's my good time and my good life, despite what you think of me. I live my life.
I live my life because I dare. I dare to show up still when anyone else might hide their face and their entire body in shame. I show up because I want to have a good time. My mother and my father-- they wanted the best for me. And I'm grateful to them. And I'm grateful to my fifth grade class. Because if they hadn't made me cry, I wouldn't be able to cry on cue right now. These are fake tears.
If I hadn't been told that I was garbage, I wouldn't have learned how to show people that I'm talented. If everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn't have figured out how to be funny. And if they hadn't told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn't tried to break me, I wouldn't know that I am fucking unbreakable.
So when you ask me how I'm so confident, I know what you're really asking. How could someone like me be confident? Go ask Rhianna and stop undressing me with your eyes!
[LAUGHTER] [MUSIC PLAYING-- RIHANNA, "DIAMONDS"] So shine bright, tonight. You and I, we're beautiful like diamonds in the sky. I'm too high, so alive. We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Michelle Tan.
LYRICS: Ain't nobody tell me what to do, what to do. You know I be breaking all the rules, all the rules.
MICHELLE TAN: Good morning, good morning. Hi MAKERS and MAKERS Men. Who is ready to raise your voice?
Oh, people. The theme is not raise your whisper. It is raise your voice. Let's make some noise. Who is ready to raise your voice?
Thank you. My name is Michelle Tan and I am so proud to be the editorial director at MAKERS. And my job is to raise the voice of MAKERS. And we do that in two ways. We tell the stories of change makers, news makers, history makers, and my personal favorite, troublemakers. All of whom are really working to really lift up other women and also inspire the next generation of leaders.
We also amplify the voice by directly talking to you. So please continue to tag @MAKERSwomen. Use the hashtag #RaiseYourVoice. And just continue to use all of those on all the different platforms-- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr. Tattoo it on yourself if you feel so compelled. We will take all of the attention we can get.
And we have such a great program. We had an incredible night last night. And we have so much more for you guys to post about today with incredible action ideas, inspiring speeches, and some just basically kick ass women. And one of those women is Pamela Bell. She runs an incredible mission-based retailer called Prinkshop, which is right here on site on the second floor of Noia house. She is silkscreening a feminist t-shirt so you can actually wear your feminism on your sleeves.
And it'll be available for you on all the breaks. You can also hire the MAKERS team for any New York runway fashion shows you would like. And the next speaker that we have coming up this morning to start you off is Joanna Barsh, bestselling author and one of our favorite members of our MAKERS community. So enjoy the day.
AMBER TAMBLYN: It was the night of the 2016 election, and the energy inside the Javits Center in New York City was charged with excitement, anxiety, and a wild, ferocious joy. I was standing in a small room of fellow Hillary Clinton surrogates and supporters, surrounded by men and women who had spent literally years working on her bid for the presidency, which we now knew we were about to win.
I stood in a circle smiling and laughing with two of my best friends, America Ferrera and Amy Schumer. You may have heard of them. We all happened to show up to the occasion wearing matching white pantsuits complete with white blazers, looking like some cast of a new primetime medical drama on an all-new San Bernardino Medical, Friday nights on NBC.
America was drinking champagne Amy was double-fisting two plastic cups of chardonnay, and I was enjoying a lovely cup of Maalox because I was extremely pregnant. Mary Steenburgen, a longtime friend of Hillary's, arrived with her husband Ted Danson, and we immediately locked eyes from across the room.
Mary had played my mother on a TV show a decade prior and was the woman who introduced me to Hillary Clinton. For years I had followed her political career and listened to her speak at events. She had encouraged and inspired me to speak up and out as a feminist. She grew to be a powerful symbol of what women can grow up to achieve, of what I hoped to someday achieve. Look at me. Look what I achieved. Nasty woman.
I ran into Mary's arms and we began to cry with happiness. Bams, your breath is so minty-- that's my Arkansas accent. It's not right-- she said, and we pulled apart and wiped our tears away. Did you just brush your teeth? Yes, I did, I said, with peppermint-flavored antacid. We laughed and hugged, and tonight was the night. It was our night. We were going to see the glass ceiling finally shatter.
But it wasn't long before everyone in the Javits Center started to realize it was not going to be the ceiling shattering, but rather our hearts. A giant television in the middle of the room began to report the ominous news that Hillary was losing. The energy in the room shifted from uplifted and celebratory, partying and taking selfies, to quiet, focused on the TV, our phones tucked back in our pockets.
I found myself sitting across from Mary, once again locking eyes with her, only this time they were filled with sickening fear. I swigged more Maalox. My baby shoved its foot in my ribs as if to foreshadow more pain was on the way. Katy Perry anxiously chewed on a celery stick. Lady Gaga anxiously chewed on her leather riding crop. The Clinton staff huddled in corners whispering . Kate McKinnon, who earlier had been the life of the party, now stood quietly by herself overlooking the balcony. Below her were a sea of thousands of heartbroken faces, husbands and wives and kids in pink pussy hats, farmers who had driven in from neighboring states, drag queens in blond Hillary wigs, a Nick Nolte impersonator. I didn't even know those were a thing.
Devastation began to drop a heavy anchor in my body. I knew where it was all heading and so did everyone else in the room. Some people tried to cheer each other up by saying, she hasn't lost yet. Don't worry, don't worry. There's still a strategy. There's still some time. There is still a path to win. But the words rang more and true as the night went on. And eventually the Clinton staff delicately told the room that we wouldn't know the full results until the morning, so we should all go home and get some sleep.
People grabbed their totes and Birkins and briefcases and quietly began to pack up. In the elevator ride on the way down, my friend Lena Dunham grabbed my hand and said, it's going to be OK, baby. It's going to be OK. It was past midnight, so Mary and Ted offered to drive me back home. We were all very emotional, and it was well past my pregnancy bedtime, which on any other night would have been 8:30, 8:31 lights out.
But on this night it was different. We were stunned, numb. We rode in the car in silence. Mary finally broke it by saying, the last time I was in this much pain was when my mother died.
Early the next morning, I rolled my giant albino walrus stomach over towards my phone and looked at it. I grabbed it and there it was, the news. Hillary had won the popular vote, but ultimately, by a large number of delegates, lost the election. I lowered my phone, touched my stomach, and stared at the ceiling, dazed. I wondered if Hillary was somewhere in some hotel room doing the exact same thing, wondering how she would bring herself to get out of bed at all.
I got on the subway to head to a meeting, but the world felt like a tableau of itself, a frozen painting of sorrow. It had shattered overnight and every face around me was a slivered shard. I looked at the people across from me on the train, and they mumbled. They were numb and stared back, eyes red and swollen.
My heart began to pound as a dark realization swam over me. I was going to bring a baby into the world, and not just any baby, a girl. And not just any world, this world, the world of Donald Trump. My heart sunk as I quietly thought to myself, maybe I don't want this baby after all. Maybe I can give her to Canadians or to a nice family in Sweden. I mean, they have amazing furniture. They probably make amazing parents. I just couldn't bear the thought of bringing a girl into this new world. I knew I loved her more than I could bear and wanted to protect her from any of this.
My heart began to pound and I felt lightheaded. I stepped out of the train-- waddled, rather-- and felt my legs quiver beneath me. My stomach lurched and I began to sweat. Something wasn't right. I began to climb the stairs at the Columbus Circle exit and a deep, piercing pain slithered through my spine. I grabbed the railing and groaned. My god, I thought, this is it. I'm going into labor. I'm going into fucking labor in a subway stairwell.
I couldn't catch my breath, so I sat down on the step halfway up the staircase. I was breathing hard, clutching my stomach and crying. And a homeless man emerged from around the corner carrying a plastic bag of fruit. Oh, shit, it's going down, he hollered when he saw me. A few more people stopped and came to my side, checking to see if I was OK. And all I could do was gasp and wheeze and cry.
Listen, the homeless man said to bystanders, I can help cut an umbilical cord if anyone needs me to. I have beard scissors. I just need some Purell if anybody has some handy. My god, I thought. This is it. I'm going into labor in a fucking stairwell and a fascist is president and a homeless man is about to cut my cord with his beard clippers.
Siren cue on point. Someone had the good sense to call 911, and soon an ambulance arrived/ the paramedics put me in the back of their ambulance and began to ask me questions. Ma'am, do you think you're going into labor? I don't know, I don't know, I said between attempts to catch my breath. Either Hillary Clinton's loss just broke my water or Donald Trump's election just gave me a miscarriage.
I took a breath. I don't want her, I cried to them. She deserves better than me. She deserves better than this The paramedic placed an oxygen mask over my mouth and began to take my pulse. The homeless man who had been standing there the whole time at the foot of the ambulance doors pulled an orange out of his plastic bag and placed it on the edge of the stretcher before quietly walking away.
They took me to the hospital, where it was quickly discovered that I was not going into labor. I wasn't even going into contractions. I was having a massive panic attack. I called my birthing doctor and she instructed me to come directly to her office immediately. When I walked into her suite she took me by the hand and brought me to her room, said, OK, kiddo, she said in her tough accent. Give it to me. What's going on?
When you become a mother, people to tell you to expect many things. Expect to be exhausted all the time, to lose a lot of sleep, to never have sex with your husband again, all of which is true, especially if your husband was a Bernie supporter. But no one ever tells women how incredibly vulnerable it is that you live in a perpetual state of rawness, of constant fear for your child and the life that child will live or miss out on or never get to live at all. No one prepares you for the type of love you experience because it cannot be described.
I tried to gather my thoughts I told her, Hillary's loss was not just about the loss of a fucking candidate I admired. It was a critical loss for Americans' identity. It was a robbery for womankind. Her loss was a projection of all of our losses as women throughout history, a culmination of our collective sacrifices, our abuses, our disparities, our silences, our injustices. Hillary was the cherry on top, symbolic of all that we had fought for and lost for generations.
Dr. Maron, I have no idea how to raise a daughter in that kind of loss and that kind of void. I don't know how to love something that much, so much that it owns me. I'm confused, estranged from myself and this world. I'm losing it. I'm fucking losing it. Come on, you gotta have something. Can I take-- can I have something like an anti-anxiety pill or bourbon or Ryan Gosling? I just don't want to feel so much all the time.
OK, kiddo, you done? She said to me. Listen, we're going to do something right now, OK? We're going to do something for you and that worn out soul of yours.
She held a heart monitor up on my stomach and told me to pull out my iPhone. She proceeded to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted to do all day long. I could torture myself by reading the news. I could watch the inauguration. I could read Twitter. Go nuts, she said. But I want you to do two things every morning and every night, every morning when you first wake up and every night before you go to bed, the first and last things you do every day. I want you to play this recording for yourself and remember your own capacity to love, how deeply, dangerously, and daringly we all choose to love in this world, no matter its cruelties.
I began to cry. I love her so much, Dr. Maron. How do I know if she loves me back? This is how, she said. This.
MARY MCCORMACK: I'm happy to be here, and I'm really sorry just right up front that I'm not Lena Dunham.
In so many ways. This is a piece called Cooking by Lena Dunham. I'm going to start this piece the way I start most days, by blaming my mother. Well, first I'll list some things that she excelled at. Protecting us from harm. Explaining adult concepts in ways that didn't terrify her children. Organizing treasure hunts in and around our home. Pretending her hand was a pet alligator named Allie. Defending us at parent-teacher conferences. You haven't shuddered till your mom has told her middle school teacher, your middle school theater teacher, she has no sense of true art. She made every weeknight an act of rebellion, and every weekend a safari through the city, and the only people she ever got angrier at than us were those that didn't recognize what she believed was our Mensa level genius. Average intelligence my ass, she screamed, as she ripped up my lengthy ADHD testing report.
She picked the chicest items in Delia's Warehouse sale catalog, the best nail polishes from Wet n Wild, and she modified our McDonald's takeout order so they had more flavor, less filler. She let me wear her sweaters as dresses. I may have been the last to lose my virginity, but I was the first to have pink hair. She was Cher in Clueless and Cher in Mermaids. She was magic.
This is all, of course, a lead up to what she didn't do. She refused to sit through school plays. She refused to listen when we read our poetry aloud. She refused to get off the phone, ever, or cook. She did not cook. She will fight this assertion like a Long Island-bred samurai. She will say, I slaved over a hot stove just like my Russian grandmother. She will remind me of the Chez Panisse cookbook that sat behind the answering machine, and she will ask, were you ever hungry? No. No, you were not hungry. No, because I cooked.
But her definition of cooking is wildly skewed, and therefore, so is mine. Defrosting a hamburger patty for my father to pan fry? Cooking. Frozen tortellini? I mean, if you talk on the phone, then suddenly realize the stove isn't lit, it's al dente. And the worst offender of all, she'll go to her death defending this horrible gourmet snack of raw cauliflower covered with cumin and mayonnaise.
I never judged her for it. Instead, I became obsessed with takeout. The joy of picking your variant of Chinese chicken, the luxurious reveal of the congealed contents of the carton. To this day, even home-cooked meals made by caring friends cannot match the thrill of the plastic bag of possibility. In my 20s, it was easy to excuse the constant ordering. I lived alone, worked insane hours, and often forgot to take my jeans off to sleep. For a brief time, I even took to ordering a muffin every night and placing it by my bedside for the morning. Cereal plus milk? Waste of time and manual labor.
The circumstances of my life, combined with a penchant for using processed food as a sedative-- that's another story-- meant take out was my religion. I could have anything I wanted without speaking to anyone. Summer rolls and a hamburger? I'll take it all, like some willful child dictator sitting on a throne of wrappers, napkins, and receipts. But as I started to spend time in more adult homes, it was becoming clear this was not the norm.
I've been busy declaring home cooks to be people with random time on their hands while I comforted myself picturing important relevant families picking up a bag from Boston Market. But it turns out some of the world's busiest people-- I love this picture. I can't stop. Love it so much. So many jokes, so little time, really. Anyway, it turns out some of the world's busiest people cook for themselves.
Even people raising kids on their own while holding down two jobs are finding time to shop and to make their own food, an approach that is altogether more sensible, not to mention more affordable. And if they could do it, what was my excuse? After all my work partner, someone whose career I had a pretty solid sense of, because, you know, it's a shared career. Not only cooks for her children nightly, but also cooks to relax. This shocking awareness made my own appetites feel excessive, almost immoral. It was one thing to be starving, quite another to be so fucking lazy about it.
I started to consider changing my ways when I thought about having a family. And when every single magazine and newspaper article screamed at me, gluten's gonna kill you, and sugar is the Antichrist, I realized I had myself a conundrum. We all know home cooking and shared meals are age old ways to bond and unite our clans. We also know that, by cooking, you can control what's being put in your food and your children's food. And the first tenet of many diets is cook ahead, start preparing your own lunches. Why don't you start preparing my grave?
So maybe I can use my busy life as an excuse. We're all pretty busy. But then how do I explain away my aversion to preparing healthful meals? The same way I'm learning to explain so much to myself. I just don't want to. The thrill of a sizzling pan? Lost on me. Pinches of spice? Too restrained. Raw meat? No! Ugh. Can't. So for many years I didn't consider "I just don't want to" as a valid excuse. But our goal, I think, as actualised adults, is to know what bores us, and to lean toward the things that we're passionate about and to spread joy using our specific skill set.
For example, I benefit daily from my own thrifty creativity. My excellent taste in weirdos, my ability to handle blood, vomit, and even the unspeakable third substance, and my passion for essential overlooked media. My theoretical children will have janky but spirited themed parties and an array of radical aunts and uncles, and I won't barf when they barf. They'll know about Gidget and Moesha, and the soundtrack to Tick, Tick, Boom! the Jonathan Larson musical that predated Rent.
I'll write poems for their lunchboxes every day, even at the lunch is a sandwich we pick up in a Lyft. Oh yeah, I can't drive either. I'll keep them healthy with the age-old battle cry of Jewish-American princesses everywhere. Dressing on the side, please! However, I admit I may need to know how to at least turn on the stove. My 13-year-old goddaughter eating pizza in my living room and using her uncanny knack for zeroing in on adult insecurities told me, at least you have to learn about pasta for an emergency. This was after she led me, as confused and sweaty as I might be at a SoulCycle class, down the aisles of our local supermarket.
OK, I conceded, because I will concede her anything. She says a quesadilla is as easy as making toast. That's going on the assumption that I've made toast, but fine. But beautifully roasted chickens and home-whipped cream will have to happen at her normal house, not with her Auntie Mame. I like fantasizing about my currently imaginary children. We'll head to the Pakistan tea house with all the cab drivers changing shifts at 4:30 to grab the $5.99 vegetarian special. They'll get really into those little bags and nuts by the register at Starbucks. And if I fish around for loose change, I'll say, nothing says New York like a street hotdog.
Maybe their friends will tease them about their lunches, like I was teased for having a roll and an apple and a raw hotdog in a plastic bag. No one will want to trade. They can take it. I did. 'Course, fantasies are just that. If I get my ass handed to me by my angry, hungry children, it's gonna be for something, right? I'd rather it be for my meals than my politics. Lord help me if it's both.
Ironically, it was when my little sister and I left the house that my mother began cooking in earnest. Just recently I saw an Instagram in which one of her friends thanked her for her delicious homegrown tomato salad. I mean, who is she? Who is this freak with a ladle, and what did she do with my mother? Nothing, if not surprising, my mother is now learning to make meals for the people she loves. The betrayal stings, but not as much as the burn I got the one time I tried to make lasagna. No apologies. I inherited my appetites. And I'm almost ready to pass them on.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Joanna Barsh.
JOANNA BARSH: We only have 15 minutes. I am going to give you a lot of words in 15 minutes, and a lot of pink-- and I'm sorry about the pink! And you're going to see in a minute-- 2017-- you knew this, I don't have to tell you-- it has been a year of total disruption. If you are comfortable right now, you shouldn't be here-- we're all uncomfortable.
Why? I'm going to tell you the story, and then I'm going to run through some data, and then we're going to talk about the new research, which is really, really exciting. So the story is about everybody-- Sheryl Sandberg tells me never to say everybody, so I'm going to say almost everybody-- knows that we have a gender issue and a diversity issue in all companies, practically-- not all companies-- in America. And there has been slow progress-- and I will show that to you.
We have total uncertainty coming into 2018, because there are tailwinds making us go faster, and tailwinds making us go slower. Is this the watershed moment for women, for us, for you leaders-- men and women in this room. I actually think it is, and our new research is going to show you why. So your mission-- I need the Mission Impossible music, please-- if you choose to accept it, I will get to it in a minute.
So first some facts-- we all know that women graduate more than men from college, from graduate schools-- in many majors, in most majors. And what are women doing-- this is a ridiculously hard chart-- I know that, that's my job to show it to you-- which is, women are flocking into the majors that pay a lot less than the other majors. So if you were thinking of going to college or grad school-- anything with the word engineering in it, that's high paid. So that's what this shows you.
Next, the pipeline-- thank you [? Linda ?] McKinsey for the pipeline, I love this pipeline-- and now we've got three years to look at. Rachel will be here later to talk to us more about the pipeline, but I'm telling you there just isn't a whole lot of progress. Now you shouldn't see a lot of progress in just a few years-- you should see it over the long term-- but this is disturbing. It's also disturbing that women are leaving, and we are leaving jobs to get other jobs for different reasons than men.
Men in the audience, you know why you leave-- for that money. And for women, it's for a whole host of other reasons, which include things that possibly companies could have done differently to keep women on board. The progress at the very top-- we always like to look at women CEOs-- and it's pretty exciting to think that we got to 32, until you realize this is the Fortune 500. So now there are 223 women missing from this chart.
What about boards? Boards are out of steam as well. We were climbing in terms of our percentage of new board seats, and then we kind of got stuck at 28%, 30%-- and in fact, women are 21% of the total S&P 500 board seats. And that's not all those women, because many women, as you know, they sit on many board seats-- let's just leave it at that. We have set records-- we have set great records. And this is venture capital for example-- wow 4.4%.
Aren't you excited? Come on. That's 368 deals out of 7,002 deals. And that is 2.2% of the money-- and that's OK because the all men teams are getting 79% of the funding, because some of the teams have men and women on them. But why is that happening-- when you realize that women teams actually do really well. In fact, 63% of the time these companies with female founders are doing better.
Why do we have to do this every year? Hey, wait a minute-- we did make a lot of fuss about getting equal pay. It seems to be paying off-- at least companies are announcing that they are going to address it. I'm excited about this. And many of these companies actually have done something about it. And now I'm not going to talk to you about abuse-- you know all there is to know about abuse.
But time is up-- we learned that last night. And in fact, we made all this happen-- we the people of America made this happen-- the women-- the brave women who made it happen. And now the debate is broadening-- so that's a lot. But where does that put us-- where are we? And can we in this room, up there to, all agree on four things?
First thing-- can we agree these advances are fantastic, but that progress has stalled? Yes or no? Yes? Yes. Can we agree that the only way to get to the next horizon is through disruptive thinking. Because growth is there, we just have to change the way our heads are working. Do we agree on that? Thank you. But do we agree that it's time to act, and we have to act boldly? Yes. Then do we agree that in this room, we will be participants and not spectators?
JOANNA BARSH: Yes. Which means none of this-- like I don't know, that doesn't sound that bold to me. Let's go-- I'm going to show you the new research. Cone of silence-- this is a progress review. Anybody ever worked with a consultant-- you know what that means. It means that I reserve the right to change everything if the data comes in differently as we go forward.
This is the first time that Maker's has, in fact, joined forces with-- well, a team of us, let's say-- to look at this research. This is a pretty exciting research. Why? For the first time ever, we are having in-depth honest conversations. You don't want women to get ahead? Great. Tell me, I'm listening. We need 50 company data points to actually get enough critical mass to really understand what it means.
And we're talking to 50 people on the business side, 50 people on HR to see if we're all aligned in what we're saying. And what am I looking for? I am looking for the bold moves. They don't have to be new, they don't even have that exciting, they just have to be a big move forward that accelerates our progress. So where are we today? This is all anonymous and confidential.
If your company has not yet signed up-- trust me, I'm the only one with [? Uma-- ?] where is [? Uma? ?] Are you the audience? Wave your hand wildly-- she is working with me. And just to show you, I was from BCG-- sorry, I was from McKinsey, she was from BCG-- we're working together-- Uma and Joanna. 25 companies have signed up-- I need 25 more. I've done 23 interviews with [? Uma ?] so far-- and we are learning from both wins and losses.
And this is what we're learning-- and you already know this, but I'm going to run through it again. It is actually very hard to move beyond dialogue for the leadership. If you're in the audience, and your leadership, I feel your pain-- I know somebody else once said that. Absence of women at the top-- if you don't have women at the top, the whole pipeline just doesn't work.
What about the evaluation process? There is bias in it-- like in the water-- in those meetings. It makes it hard for women to advance. And what about the business pace-- anybody here is on the business side knows it's unpredictable, it's fast-- you're moving at lightning speed. HR just finds it hard to catch up-- to keep up. What about work norms? They're so embedded-- 24/7, talk to me any time you want.
These things are hard for women, but also for men. And they're not changing without disruptive thinking. And then what about sponsorship? We have proven six ways to Sunday that sponsors make the difference, and yet women are not getting sponsored at the same rate as men. And finally, the biggest mother of them all, that game we are playing in business today-- can I say it? Sucks. It's zero sum, winner take all.
And there are a lot of highly talented women, and men as well, who choose not to play that game. So those are the problems-- let's take them one by one. And I'm going to give you sanitized disguised quotes to give some color to what we're looking at. To make progress, we've got to do more than talk-- you know that. So here is a chief diversity officer from a major company-- who used to be a business leader-- saying
I'm one of 15 direct reports, and I'm the only one, beside the CFO, who gets to report out pretty much all the time. That's because the CEO wants diversity to happen in our company-- it's a necessity for him, and for all of us. And that CEO is about performance-- so what does that mean? We're benchmarking, we're communicating, you have to have progress.
And he treats it the same way he treats revenue and other initiatives-- so he expects the numbers to improve-- the numbers are improving. Concept number one-- take no prisoners. What does that look like? You know what it looks like-- you set targets. You put those targets in the leader's objectives, you link those objectives so that you have strategy and diversity linked, you share the scorecards, you report on the progress, and you get paid on the progress.
And there are consequences in your wallet. And why does that work? Everybody's aligned-- hey, we've got the wallet involved now, so everybody participates. It is a top priority. What about the next role? Rooney role-- now, that's been in place, as we know, in the NFL for years and years-- it doesn't always work, there's a lot of debate about it. But what if we did it for real?
What if we said there have to be qualified women on every slate? What if we said the HR is not on the line to bring the women, but to enable the business leader to get the women that he or she needs? And what if the CEO actually does review every single new promotion, inside or outside, that happens. And holds the slate open-- and this is the kicker. What happens then? More women join at the top.
What about the next one? If we had more women at the top, what would happen? So here is an Svp talent officer on the HR saying it's happening Joanna, the CEO wouldn't put up with it. So there's this one guy-- runs the division, not any women on the team-- and we talked to him. We're not too heavy handed-- and the next year, he shows up with more women on the team. Oh, that wasn't hard.
How does it work? We make room for women-- that's how we do it. And there are two interesting ways companies are doing that right now. One is to completely restructure the executive team in the operating committee, and just put more women-- add people of color-- on those teams. Not hard to do-- but then you have to actually work with a brand new, much larger, team-- and that is hard to do.
But if you do it, what happens? Now you have voices that are different sharing different perspectives on the issues. Sharing your customers' perspectives. This enables a cultural shift throughout the company-- it's amazing. What about this one? Somebody is doing this one as well-- take the top roles and split them into two. CEO, COO-- I'm not telling you who's who in this picture.
But why would you do that? You would do that because you need more leadership in today's turbulent times, you need more bench, because people quit and you want to protect the company's interests. This is not a very expensive thing to do. Third point-- without bias-- imagine a world without bias, wouldn't that be lovely? Well it can happen.
And here is a professor telling me there is bias in everything everybody says. You could say the same thing about a man and about a woman, and it would help the man and hurt the woman, or vise versa. We don't want to do that. She says, let's just make criteria that match the role, make sure it's transparent, make sure it's good, and then actually use it in the meetings.
So how do we do that? Rip out the bias. Here's the first way we do it-- we actually put all the criteria on paper, we evaluate every candidate actually gets the criteria-- not against Tom. Tom, of course, is the best person in the entire pool. And when we evaluate against Tom, all the women show up in the 2 2 box-- which is bleh, she's hardworking.
But we're not going to do that anymore, because we're going to call it out. And how does that happen? It happens-- that we reduce the subjectivity that really hurts women. Here's an even bolder idea that is in place in one company, which is let's evaluate all the women in their own meeting first. The men get to wait until the afternoon after lunch in that lull. In the first meeting, we put all the women candidates up against the criteria, and we advance every single one who is ready.
That makes sense, right? Logic-- that's not bold, that what you're supposed to be doing. But there are no men in that pool. Then after lunch, we evaluate all the men, and we decide who also meets all the criteria and are ready for advancement. In an open world where we have lot of room for advancement, all those people get advanced. If, for some reason, the company is on a budget, we advance as many men as we can.
This results in disrupting the pattern of how we do reviews, making people conscious about their criteria, and looking at each candidate against the criteria, and more women advance. Like from 19% to 32% in this company. Not bad. Number four-- HR mismatch of pace with business. How does HR get ahead of business in order to fulfill all of those hiring needs?
And what this CEO says-- look, this is not easy. We're all on a short term reign, and I have to deliver results-- and the head of the business has to deliver results-- and by the way, Tom, who we all know is the best one in the pool, is ready to take that job any time we want to give it to him. So what do we do? We anticipate and we stockpile talent.
How do we do that? Concept-- we shift the talent process-- this is happening in one of the companies-- by adding discovery to the talent process-- that's what you're looking at here. What does that mean for any HR People in the room? Networking very extensively, knowing your target, setting a much higher target so that we're bringing in 50% women right from the beginning.
Opening up new sources, particularly for people of color, so that we can go where they are getting schooled. And we bring in the talent, regardless of their skill-- we train them, and now they're ready for a lot of jobs. And by the way, we take the internship program, and put it on steroids. So what does that do? We just get a whole lot more diversity right into the funnel from the get go, we give them exposure to our company, we get exposed to them, and before we know it, we're making a cultural shift.
Let's go on to the next problem-- how work gets done. Does anybody really like to work 24/7 80 hour weeks, and travel on a whim-- does anybody really like to do that? No. And here's a woman who's doing diversity-- used to be a marketer in a very large company-- saying to us, OK, I'm in the messy middle-- I have young kids. I get it-- I had to take my kid to the doctor at 4 PM-- she was very sick-- I didn't get home till 8 PM-- but I worked till midnight, and that's fine for me.
I can do my job, it's all about performance-- and I'm going to have it that way in this company because they are totally flexible. What about your company? So the concept is to hang on to these people, and help them hang in there until life and work gets easier. So how do you do that? You have to be willing to change or bend the rules.
This is a simple to do-- And there are a myriad of ways to do it. For example, remote work-- on your schedule, not on my schedule. You work when you want, where you want to work. What about new practices that solve an issue? Like, this one company pays for mothers to travel with their baby and their mother-in-law-- god forbid-- or their nanny.
What about the benefits that reduce friction? People, it's not that expensive to put a hospital grade pump in every office. What about parent friendly rules? This company said men and women who are new parents, whether you had it or adopted it, or-- can't be a dog, has to be a baby-- and you get to stay home all year.
What happens? People feel empowered, they feel like somebody is listening, they feel like they can shape their own way they work. That's not that hard to do-- it's not that expensive. I know, sponsorship-- I'm going to skip the text, but you'll see it later. How about we just make it easy? How does that work? We need low risk trials-- what does that mean?
Rotations for young people-- I see a lot of young people in the audience. Imagine following them around the COO, or the Chief Marketing Officer, or the Chief Financial Officer-- imagine being a chief of staff to that person. All those things will work to give you exposure to the young talent, and it will work to bring people together naturally instead of saying hey, you over there, you sponsor her over here-- that's not going to work-- this is going to work.
What about the final one-- which is the hardest, the mother of them all-- do we have to change the game? I know, I'm an old lady-- that's not going to happen in my lifetime. So how do we do it? It's a vicious world out there for the men along with the women. This is for everybody-- do we want a more collaborative workplace, do we want to stop zero sum winner take all behavior among our very kind colleagues?
More coming on that, because we are just starting the interviews. The game, I want to tell you, is actually changing for some people. And mindsets are shifting-- and when mindsets shift, behavior shifts too. In fact, HR teams are coming to the fore and inventing. There is significant progress-- some of these companies have made huge differences in two or three years.
However, I am learning that all gender programs will tire over time. And as they tire, you need to refresh. So your mission, if you choose to take it, is to mobilize the people in your company who are with you on this-- to join us at the front line research. If you're early on or if you're doing your thing, just set up learning experiments, and share back to Makers what you are learning. We all can learn together, and we can all act together. This is not a one woman effort, it is not a makers alone effort-- it requires at least 50 companies to be on board. If you have any questions, find me later. I've had a blast-- I hope you learned something. Goodbye.
PRESENTER: Ladies and gentlemen, Allie Kline and Lowell McAdam.
ALLIE KLINE: Good morning. How are you all? Really? How's it going? After all that data? Yes, we are thrilled to be here and I am thrilled to be here with someone I have tremendous respect and admiration for, Lowell McAdam, who is the CEO and chairman of Verizon. So thank you so much for making time with us.
LOWELL MCADAM: It's great to be here. And I have to say Tim had a great idea to do this conference that he's had you know unbelievable support and people like you that are leading it now. And when I look at who's in the audience, wow, it's a great group. And when I look at I'm glad I'm on first because if I had to come in later I'd disappoint you. So I'm glad to be on and we're glad to support this and we'll continue to support it.
ALLIE KLINE: Awesome, well let's get right to it.
LOWELL MCADAM: OK
ALLIE KLINE: OK. So we're going have some serious talk on then we're going to do some fun stuff.
LOWELL MCADAM: OK good.
ALLIE KLINE: OK. So you are the chairman and CEO of you know Fortune 15 company, one of the most successful companies in the entire world. How do you think about and looking at the data that Joanna just presented or the research a lot of these women in here have the ability and influence to go make those issues a CEO issue? What's the counsel you give to us?
LOWELL MCADAM: Well I'll give you an example of this weekend. People ask you know how do I get noticed by the CEO? And I remember when I started out there were Harvard Business Review things about you know make sure you do this and this and this in your career. I went in to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl this weekend and I met with the leaders of the team that brought that network, you know I won't brag about that that'll take too much of our time. But the two biggest leaders of the team on the ground were women. And that's how you get noticed.
We were up triple the volume than we've ever been before. And they took me around and they introduced me to one of their superstars who happened to be born in Romania, educated in Germany, is an immigrant to the US, we work with her to make sure that she's going through all the process. So in that day I saw why immigration's important, why diversity's important. And I think I'd sum it up, Judy Spitz who was our CIO in one of our big business units used to say to me all the time Lowell you'll never win the game if you leave half the team on the bench. And that's sort of the mantra that we've accepted.
ALLIE KLINE: So what is-- so that's you're an evolved man in many ways. How do you get the attention of a CEO that may not have that same default perspective? How do you make it a business imperative or a business issue?
LOWELL MCADAM: You beat them. No I mean seriously I'm a big believer in diversity of thought. And as you bring that whole team to bear you end up with a better strategy, with better execution, and you go out and you win in the marketplace. And I do honestly believe that people that don't make people of color, and diversity, with men and women a front page issue for them in the top of their mind they're aren't going to do as well in the marketplace.
ALLIE KLINE: So you talked about the Super Bowl and the impact of I assume what Nikki's team was doing there. There's two women that I've been really fortunate to work with on your team, Nikki Palmer, who is the chief network officer in charge of all of Verizon's wireless network which is huge, and Chandra McMahon who's your CSO head of all security. What's the impact of having women in those positions that are typically held by men?
LOWELL MCADAM: Look those are two of the most critical positions in our company. And Hans Vestberg, who's our CTO, gave Chandra a very high compliment. When he was the CEO of Ericsson he worked with 154 companies around the world. And he said Chandra is the best CSO he's ever seen. So she has-- when she speaks people listen. And Nikki's the same way. And you know I'm especially proud of folks like Nikki and Marney who's beside herself that she can't be here, she's got the flu. But we identified them early in the career. You know they had the mindset, they had the drive, they delivered the results. And our job was just to help move them into the right positions.
And Magda Yrizarry right here in the front row, Magda is our chief diversity officer. She's invaluable to me because she's in my face. She says Lowell you know we got this position. Here is a list of the candidates, and it's like yeah I got it, OK, let's figure out the right way to move them through the organization and get them you know so they can make a difference. And when they do, boy they sure stick out.
ALLIE KLINE: Yeah. OK let's talk about Me Too.
LOWELL MCADAM: OK.
ALLIE KLINE: What are your thoughts on the movement?
LOWELL MCADAM: So we need the movement but I wish we didn't have the movement. And let me just tell you a quick story, a mom story. So my mom stayed home with me until I was in first grade and then she went back to teaching full time. And she carpooled with another teacher to a school that was about a half hour away because she didn't want to teach where she had three boys, we were all ill mannered, not really, but she boxed our ears a few times, she didn't want to be in the school. So anyway she'd head off to school in the morning, I would go home with a friend, she'd pick me up on the way home, and we'd deliver the other teacher home.
One day I'm in the backseat seat you know wherever you are when you're in first grade years old, and all of a sudden the car lurches forward and she takes off. And I look around and the teacher's husband, who had stuck his head in the window of the car, is lying on the ground. He'd hit his head, those old cars from the 60s, I know many of you are too young for that but they had this big metal pillar between the front and the back door. And she hit the gas, he hit his head, and he's laying out on the ground out. Mom, mom, you just you know to Mr.-- he's out. She says, he put his hand in the wrong place.
And she looked at me and she said Lowell, don't you ever touch a woman without her permission. OK mom, I got it. You know but that story sticks with me. And so we need the movement but we shouldn't have to have the movement. And I think as I look at the big examples that you see between family, between coworkers, between business leaders like me, we have the responsibility to not have to have a movement like this. But you know we'll do it, we'll do it well, we'll make sure to your point about CEOs that don't get the message, they'll get the message if you know if we have this sort of movement.
ALLIE KLINE: Is this something you all talk about at the CEO level?
LOWELL MCADAM: Oh absolutely. I mean we don't have to talk about it anymore to be honest as far as the business goes. When we've had bad actors in Verizon, look you know no matter how good we are on some of these things I always have there's a higher gear we can always do more. But we've had a couple of examples that I can you know somebody had been with us 10 days and made a pass at one of his subordinates that was a woman. Boom, he was out. Diego fired him without any consultation. The person was gone. And unfortunately we've had many examples like that but people know you do that in Verizon you're out.
ALLIE KLINE: That's great. We're going to change the topic a little. And how many of you all this is your first Makers? Wow this is your first Makers? Wow that is amazing. OK so for those of you that have not seen this before Gloria Steinem holds the record. She is here, which is a Maker's Minute. We're going to do a Maker's Man Minute with Lowell and see if you can beat Gloria. No pressure. You're a Fortune 15 CEO. You can do it right? OK.
LOWELL MCADAM: No I've met my match.
ALLIE KLINE: Who's got a phone and a minute timer? Yep you got it? OK great so you tell me when to go.
LOWELL MCADAM: Is a Man Minute longer or shorter?
ALLIE KLINE: A man minute's like seven minutes don't worry so yeah. It's like dog years. Kidding, kidding, kidding. ready? OK. Best word to describe you?
LOWELL MCADAM: Deliberate.
ALLIE KLINE: Beyonce or Taylor Swift?
LOWELL MCADAM: Taylor.
ALLIE KLINE: A female who inspires you?
LOWELL MCADAM: My daughter.
ALLIE KLINE: Toilet seat up or down?
LOWELL MCADAM: Remember the story about my mother? Down.
ALLIE KLINE: Something that makes you hopeful?
LOWELL MCADAM: This movement, this Makers conference.
ALLIE KLINE: Something that pisses you off?
LOWELL MCADAM: People that don't take accountability.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you're afraid of?
LOWELL MCADAM: Washington politicians.
ALLIE KLINE: If you could be a woman for one day who would it be?
LOWELL MCADAM: Boy I'll have to-- I don't know, I don't know.
ALLIE KLINE: You don't know?
LOWELL MCADAM: No.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you wish you did more often?
LOWELL MCADAM: Worked out.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you wish you did less often?
LOWELL MCADAM: Stressed.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you've never tried but would like to do?
LOWELL MCADAM: Safari in Africa.
ALLIE KLINE: OK well I want to ask him one more. So you got 11, she had 16, that's close.
LOWELL MCADAM: There you go.
ALLIE KLINE: Headline you'd most like to see on the cover of the Wall Street Journal tomorrow morning?
LOWELL MCADAM: Verizon stock at 100.
ALLIE KLINE: Two more just because I can't resist, that would be amazing. I would love that. Favorite thing about your job?
LOWELL MCADAM: The variety.
ALLIE KLINE: And what's your biggest vice? This one I just want to know even if yeah--
LOWELL MCADAM: I collect old cars.
ALLIE KLINE: Oh nice, OK. All right last question for you. We have a lot of Makers app partners of which Verizon is one with this one in the audience. Tomorrow many of them will be getting up and making a pledge on how they're going to raise their voice. How will you and Verizon raise your voice going forward?
LOWELL MCADAM: You know Allie I'd say we're very proud of the things that we're doing. We're investing in STEM education for females through a program called WiTNY. We're moving people around the business, we're bringing people in like [? Michaela ?] from outside the country. I have a saying, there's always a higher gear. And in our credo it says our best was good for today, tomorrow we'll do better. And I think that's rather than one thing, it's doing all of those things and figuring out how to do more of it and do it better. And that's our pledge I think.
ALLIE KLINE: Great, thank you so much.
LOWELL MCADAM: Thank you Allie. Good luck. Enjoy the conference
- Ladies and gentlemen, Barbara Smith and Gloria Steinem.
GLORIA STEINEM: If any of you hasn't seen the whole Makers interview, you really have to watch it. And I have to say that if any of you doesn't know that Barbara has thought up, written, organized much of what we know as feminism today, you don't know what you're missing, OK? So you have to promise me that you're going to catch up on this woman. Because, otherwise, I'm afraid she's just going to talk about other women.
And incidentally, in the last decade, she decided that she would see whether democracy worked or not, right?
BARBARA SMITH: Yes.
GLORIA STEINEM: And so, she took the corrupt city of Albany and turned it into a democracy, which elected women--
BARBARA SMITH: By running for office. Yes, two terms.
GLORIA STEINEM: And I think we're ready to hear the message today because of the results of the election. I think the country has finally realized because of the fact that-- what, 96% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton and 51% of white married women-- married women-- I would like to speak up for single women. But anyway--
BARBARA SMITH: Yes, let's speak up for us.
GLORIA STEINEM: --voted for Trump. Perhaps we are finally ready to admit that the women's movement has always, always, always-- feminism has always been disproportionately women of color and disproportionately black women. And in--
In the very first issue of "Ms." magazine, we published a Louis Harris poll. I think it was the first big poll of women's opinions on the women's movement and on specific issues. And something like 96% of black women supported what was then called the Women's Liberation Movement, not feminism--
BARBARA SMITH: Mhm, right.
GLORIA STEINEM: --and supported the issues, compared to only 30-something percent of white women. So let's just say that the hidden figures that we are-- let's just say our hidden figures should so not be hidden. I mean, it is the result of the way the movement has been covered. So-- and also, your genius title. The title was all the--
BARBARA SMITH: I'll say it.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah.
BARBARA SMITH: Yeah, "All of the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of us are Brave-- Black Women Studies." It was the first book published in the United States about black women studies, specifically about black women studies.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah, so I just-- here's my personal question to you. How do you keep from going completely bonkers with rage when turn on-- when you go online and people are talking about white feminism. And, you know, hello, then it's not feminism, right-- and, you know, and just when you see the so-called second wave characterized as a white woman's movement.
BARBARA SMITH: Well, as we know, people in the United States, they probably got a C in history. Most people in the United States would have gotten a C in history because history really is not taught very effectively in our nation. That's because there's a lot that they wish to hide, particularly the genocide of indigenous people and the enslavement of my people of African people.
So the fact that we don't know about the history and the participation of women of color in the second wave of the women's movement, that's just like one of 2,000 things that most people don't know. As far as how do I not go bonkers, it's because I've spent my entire life trying to counter that-- those omissions and that ignorance. So I can always content myself with the fact, well, at least I tried. At least I did that book, did that anthology, started that press, whatever. You know, I have done all I possibly could to uplift the voices of women of color.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah, nobody-- nobody has done more. And since in your spare time, you've educated me over all these years.
BARBARA SMITH: We did a book together.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right, we-- right, OK.
BARBARA SMITH: That was quite a long haul.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yes, and we survived.
BARBARA SMITH: Yes.
GLORIA STEINEM: OK, so educate us. I mean, give us some of the hidden figures who should not be hidden.
BARBARA SMITH: Well, I find this a fascinating topic. But the one thing I want to say to begin with is it is hard sometimes to place women and black women-- and I'm speaking specifically about African-American women today, since that's my home community. It can be difficult to place us accurately in the history, in the chronology of feminism if what you're looking for are explicit statements of I am a feminist, and this is what I believe because I'm a feminist.
Now, if we look at history, we go back to the 19th century. And we see black women like Anna Julia Cooper, Nannie Burroughs, people-- Mary McLeod Bethune into the early 20th century who definitely were working on women's issues, who were in the black women's club movement but who did not necessarily use the F word, the feminist word. There are a few people I wanted to talk about, and I don't know if I myself would say that they were a part of the women's movement, because I don't know what they would say about it.
GLORIA STEINEM: Mhm.
BARBARA SMITH: I'm thinking about Fannie Lou Hamer. Fannie Lou Hamer was a pillar of the civil rights movement. And, of course, that's when I became politically active as a teenager in the civil rights movement.
She was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, poor, a sharecropper. And she was about justice and freedom. Eventually, she became a founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
She was beaten brutally and carried the disabilities from that brutal beating, when she was in jail for trying to register to vote in her county. She did that, and then she became, as I said, a founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party that at the 1964 Democratic Convention tried to get the illegitimate all-white delegation unseated.
GLORIA STEINEM: But I would say she was definitely a feminist because she was a founder of the reproductive justice movement. Because she was the first person to talk about sterilization.
BARBARA SMITH: Yes, the Mississippi Appendectomy.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yes, right.
BARBARA SMITH: That's what they called it.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right.
BARBARA SMITH: And sterilization was so frequent and was used so often to abuse black women that they referred to it as a Mississippi Appendectomy. She had been sterilized herself.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right, and she-- she had tried to raise this in SNCC. And I think the guys were a little embarrassed by it.
BARBARA SMITH: Right.
GLORIA STEINEM: And so, actually, it was because of Ruth Ginsburg, who was then head of the women's rights at the ACLU.
BARBARA SMITH: Mhm.
GLORIA STEINEM: And sent me and another woman to interview Fannie Lou about the fact that she had been sterilized, and this was a systemic problem.
BARBARA SMITH: Right.
GLORIA STEINEM: So, to me, she is a founder-- one of the founders of the reproductive justice movement.
BARBARA SMITH: By speaking out about her own lived experience.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right.
BARBARA SMITH: So that's why scholars and historians kind of go back and forth about where does feminism start. Who was a part of it? Because does it require using certain terms and words?
GLORIA STEINEM: Well, I would go for content over form, wouldn't you?
BARBARA SMITH: Right. I think I'm with you.
GLORIA STEINEM: OK, all right. So who else do you want to tell us about?
BARBARA SMITH: I wanted to mention Johnnie Tillmon. She was born in 1917. I'm sorry, I may be getting her birth date wrong. I'm looking at my notes.
Fannie Lou Hamer was definitely born in 1917. But I think that Johnnie Tillmon was born around the same time. She was the founder-- she was a woman who, after having worked at a union job-- and I think she was based out here in California. Her circumstances changed, but I think perhaps because of illness. And she had to go on welfare. She really did not want to do that.
But out of that experience and out of the abuse of the system as it existed at that time-- and, of course, differently at this time too, because they tried to get rid of welfare in the 1990s and were pretty successful at that-- she started the national-- she, with others, started the National Welfare Rights Organization. And that was a really important group for looking at issues of class and gender. She talked about the welfare system as being like being in a bad marriage with a bad husband.
And she wrote an article that appeared, guess where? In the first issue of "Ms." magazine about the issues of black women, and women in general and welfare. So she's someone to know about.
And the other person I wanted to mention is Fran Beal. She wrote an article in, I think, the late 1960s. She was a part of SNCC. And she was also a part of the left. So she had a strong race, class, gender analysis.
She wrote an article called "Double Jeopardy." And she was talking about patriarchal attitudes and sexism within black context. And I have to tell you having done the same thing myself, it does not get you many friends, I have to say, particularly if you look at that period of the mid-20th century.
So she spoke out very strongly-- so sorry to be hoarse. I always am in the morning. And, of course, it's catching up with me, unfortunately.
But in any event, she spoke out about the intersectional issues. That term wasn't coined until a few decades later. And she also was a part of an organization and a founder of the Third World Women's Alliance, which was explicitly feminist.
GLORIA STEINEM: Before intersectionality came "Double Jeopardy." Hello? I mean, this was not, you know, a totally new concept.
BARBARA SMITH: And sometimes triple jeopardy.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yes, right, right, right. And we have Pauli Murray, who, you know, really invented the idea for now and the basis of Ruth Ginsburg. I mean, you know, we could go on. But I see it's telling us to move to Q&A. It says here, right here. OK.
BARBARA SMITH: Well, there we go.
GLORIA STEINEM: OK.
BARBARA SMITH: Now, it's for you.
- I'm coming. Hi, Gloria-- Tina Chen-- and Barbara.
GLORIA STEINEM: Hello. Hi, Tina.
- Thank you so much for this.
BARBARA SMITH: Nice to meet you.
- So I see in your stories a direct line to women of color today. And I'm thinking in particular as I stand here of folks like Cleo Pendleton in Chicago, the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed. She's the young girl who was shot and killed after marching in President Obama's second inauguration parade, and the many mothers of the fallen-- Trayvon Martin's mother.
And my question is, from your-- from the historical studies and the studies of the women that you've described for us, what lessons can we learn as a broader movement, as a modern movement right now on how to support those voices, how to make them come to the forefront? Because I see, they're still not at the forefront and where they need to be in the work that we're doing today.
BARBARA SMITH: I think it's so important for women of color not to be seen as an afterthought or an add-on. We were committed feminists. And when I say we, I'm talking about members of the Combahee River Collective, which you may be familiar with. Because we wrote a statement that has been widely, widely used, read, reprinted.
And now there's a new book with the statement in it called "How We Get Free, Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective." There are interviews with the three co-authors of the statement, including my sister, Beverly Smith and Demita Frazier. But we grappled as committed feminists in Boston in the 1970s with being marginalized within the women's movement.
I'll never forget that someone who is still a dear friend who I had just met at that time saying as we were riding along in the car, probably just a meeting or a demonstration. She said is that little group of yours still meeting? And I was like, are you kidding me?
So don't marginalize us. Think about how every issue that you're working on-- even if it's something as obscure as algorithms and technology, which we know nothing about, think about it how it affects women of color, women of different classes, women of different religions, Muslim women. Look at who's most under attack in our society at the time, and figure out how your activism is touching and changing their lives.
Also, read an article that appears in one of my books, "Home Girls, A Black Feminist Anthology," by Bernice Johnson Reagon, who you may know as a founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock. The article is titled "Coalition Politics, Turning the Century." And everyone needs to read that article to figure out how to do principled work across our differences.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah, and I would just say don't start a group until it looks like the people who are affected by the issue. Because if you start a group as white women and then say-- you know, you've taken on the power to include. Hello? Don't start until it--
BARBARA SMITH: Exactly, and take the time.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right.
BARBARA SMITH: Take the time that it will take to dig deeper and do more principled and inclusive organizing.
GLORIA STEINEM: Right. Maybe we should pass the mic around. See, there's the problem of transit time here. OK, all right.
- Hi, my name is Kim Foxx. I'm from Chicago. And my question piggybacks off of Tina's question. What do you say to women of color who have felt perhaps that they were not included and are now feeling like the movement is happening?
And are we welcome? What do you say to them, who perhaps say we would rather stay over here because they fear that talking about inner sectionalism will somehow alienate them from their allies? What are your words of encouragement for women of color?
BARBARA SMITH: I think that's why that article that I mentioned-- "Coalition Politics Turning the Century"-- is so useful. Because it makes a distinction between home and the movement. The movement is not your home necessarily.
It might become your home, but you have to have a place where you feel fully seen, fully empowered, and you can do your own work. So what I would recommend to anyone who is marginalized in many different ways are, you know-- and particularly around race, have that place where you can be yourself and talk the way you want to talk about whatever it is you wish to.
But you can't have a movement in a vacuum. Movements are big, broad, and inclusive. So we have to be able to work with others who are different from ourselves. And we expect people who are not of the same background are co-conspirators-- not allies, because allies is a little too weak for me. But we want our co-conspirators to step up and to be there with us.
- Thank you.
GLORIA STEINEM: All right, and it's sort of blank there. Does that mean-- do we have time for one more question?
BARBARA SMITH: We had 12 seconds.
GLORIA STEINEM: Oh, 12 seconds? OK, all right. OK, quick. Run!
BARBARA SMITH: No, I think we're going to run it out. Two offers for-- OK.
- I'll speak loudly, and you can repeat.
GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah.
- Gloria, you turned to Barbara and you said educate us, which I loved. Barbara, can you tell us-- now that you've educated us-- how we can continue to educate ourselves. What are your top three go do this right now?
BARBARA SMITH: Well, you must be reading my mind because there a couple of books I was going to recommend, besides all of mine. I would recommend-- there are two authors that I think-- my actual field is teaching literature, African American literature and black women writers-- two authors who you're going to learn a lot from.
One is Margaret Walker. The book is "Jubilee." It's a novel. It's an antidote to "Gone with the Wind." It's a real story of enslavement, told from a black woman's point of view.
The other one is Ann Petry's "The Street." It is a novel that takes place in the 1940s in New York City, a story of a black single mother, struggling economically. But what Ann Petry does so brilliantly is to show how gender, as well as race and class, get in the way of her hopes and her dreams. So those are just FYIs. And if you turn to my books, you'll find a lot of bibliographies.
GLORIA STEINEM: And I just want to say, you have to read everything this woman has written, OK?
BARBARA SMITH: Or at least a little of it.
GLORIA STEINEM: She's made me what I am today. And I hope she's satisfied.
BARBARA SMITH: I am. I am.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Cleo Wade.
CLEO WADE: What does it mean to have a radical life? Where does a radical life begin? Does it begin with radical support in the way I used to watch my mother and her girlfriends gather around the kitchen table wiping each other's tears, helping each other smile through their pain, through their divorces, through their custody battles, through the work days that broke them?
Or does a radical life begin with radical persistence in the way the suffragettes spent more than half a century fighting for their right to vote? And I've heard Carrie Chapman Catt referred to as 52 years of pause-less campaigning.
Does it begin with radical organizing in the way Ella Baker went from small town to small town talking to ordinary black folks making sure that they knew that they were deserving of the basic human rights they had been denied for so long in a country that spent 200 years enslaving and torturing them?
Does a radical life begin with radical leadership in the way Wilma Mankiller became the Cherokee nation's first female chief? Bringing running water to places that had no running water and showing young indigenous girls everywhere that there was not only a seat for them at the table, there was a seat for them at the head of the table. Does it begin with radical accountability in the way Dolores Huerta would sit with the farm workers she organized and count every single sexist comment she heard and reported to the room at the end of every meeting?
The first meeting, she counted 58. The second, she counted 30 and finally, none. Because she was brave enough to show them who they were, they could recognize what about themselves they needed to change. Does a radical life begin with radical endurance in the way we saw Anita Hill sit in that chair while senator after white male senator after white male senator antagonized and patronized her for surviving the sexual harassment of Clarence Thomas?
Does a radical life begin with radical determination in the way Tammy Duckworth did not let losing both of her legs in Iraq stop her from not only running for office in 2016 but also running a marathon? All with a two-year-old at home. She is now the senator of Illinois and pregnant with her second child at the age of 50.
Maybe radical life begins with the radical strength of so many of us who kept hearing no, who kept hearing that they never could, who fought to feel worthy in a world, a life, and a job that told them every single day that they were not. Maybe a radical life begins with radical forgiveness. The radical forgiveness we must have for ourselves in the moment we wake up and realize that we had been living in our privilege and our blind spots for too long, that we had not seen our other sisters, that we had not known or acknowledged the extent of their struggles.
Maybe a radical life begins with the radical compassion that we must have for one another when we look at each other and say, I'm sorry it took me so long to get to you but I am here now. I am your radical comrade. I am ready to practice radical listening and give you my radical empathy.
And when something happens to you, I will not turn away in fear or helplessness. I will stand up in solidarity with you and offer you, and all who are oppressed, my radical love, my radical hope, my radical faith, and my radical work ethic.
This is a promise we must make to each other because a radical change starts with us. It starts in this room not on the hill. It starts in your house not in the White House. It starts in the streets not the Supreme Court. It starts with the mothers who organized against gun violence, the students that organize against rape on college campuses, it starts with those of us who said me too, and all of us who say times up.
You know, as I think about how to activate my radical life during these times where we cannot afford to be idle, I realize that maybe the most important place to start is with the radical imagination. The difference between those who are rooting for liberation and those who are rooting for a continued oppression, the patriarchy, and white supremacy is that those of us who are fighting for freedom are fighting for a world that has never existed.
The oppressor knows what oppression looks like and how it functions because we've been living in it our entire lives. We do not know what the world looks like where women are free, where people of color are free, where people with disabilities, and immigrants, and refugees, and indigenous people, and LGBTQ, and gender non-conforming folks are free, and safe, and seen, and celebrated.
We are the builders who are building something that has never been built before. Let us do this with radical care, with radical creativity, with radical consideration, and radical bravery. And let us do this knowing that it is an imperfect journey. Let us approach our flaws with radical patience, radical honesty, radical mercy, and radical awareness.
I hope that all of you will look around and get to know each other today because your radical life might start in this room, in this place because this is the place where you met your radical family.
Thank you so much.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Betty Reid Soskin and Luvvie Ajayi.
LUVVIE AJAYI: OK.
[SHOUTS FROM CROWD]
This is the best fan section ever. You have bars. You're amazing. I basically feel like I'm sitting on the stage with a unicorn. Right? I'm just like, wow. Just reading your story and reading about, first of all, how many career changes have you had?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Oh, I have no idea. I reinvent myself every decade.
LUVVIE AJAYI: OK. Out of all of those, which one was the most fulfilling?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Oh, I think-- I think that I'm using everything I have ever learned right now. And this is probably the most gratifying period of my life.
LUVVIE AJAYI: That is awesome. So we just heard from Gloria Steinem and Barbara Smith about hidden stories. Your work is devoted to sharing your own hidden experience, which is almost overlooked. Is sharing our personal truths a political act?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: I think there's probably no more political act than sharing those truths. Because that's what separates us from everyone else. That's where the gifts that we give, that we bring into the world, exist, in those personal stories.
LUVVIE AJAYI: Where did you find your courage to tell the truth, to be this person?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: That's hard to answer. I'm not sure that most of the real truths haven't been learned in retrospect. I've never anticipated them. I lived a complete life in a complete state of surprise. I'm not a planner. I'm not a list maker. It's only in looking back that I really have any understanding of where I've been.
LUVVIE AJAYI: Wow. I'm just over like-- OK. You know when you're just, like, staring at magic. That's what I'm doing right now. So, you're 96, which is, like, completely hard to believe. Because you-- you are so active, you're so, like, present. And you're here. And it's because we don't have examples of what 96 looks like.
BETTY REID SOSKIN: But I don't either. I have outlived all of my peers, so that I'm living in uncharted territory right now. I've lost my sense of future. And in compensation, my sense of past has been amplified. So that though I don't have any idea what tomorrow's going to be like, because there are no models left for me, I have to make it up as I go along.
But in exchange I'm finding myself looking out on a world today in chaos and realizing that ever since 1776, we have been a democracy in chaos, cyclically. That we're on an upward spiral, we keep touching the same places at higher and higher levels. That I'm not enslaved like my great grandmother was.
There's still much, much work to do. But every generation I know now has to recreate democracy in its time because democracy will never be fixed. It was not intended to. It's a participatory form of governance that we all have the responsibility to form that more perfect union. And that has been what has kept you going now over this past decade. The sense of responsibility to do that, that I really do have a role as an extraordinary ordinary person, that I have a role to do that. And that's been amazing.
LUVVIE AJAYI: When you look back to-- what was that, 1953 you moved to the suburbs?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Yes.
LUVVIE AJAYI: --with your family. And you were talking about your son's school did the minstrel show.
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Yeah.
LUVVIE AJAYI: How do you think we've moved forward since then?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: I think that because we are not a monolith we move forward in waves, individual waves, in various parts of the country and in various segments of the population. And that there are always many of us lagging back. That there are those of us who are on the cutting edge, and that's what I see here in this room. That's an incredible place to be in. Makes me want another 20 years.
But I'm not sure how to answer that question. Because I think that some change is immediate, and some change takes decades, some change is generational. And all of that is happening at the same time. That's a complex thing to have to manage under governance.
And we, as a democracy, because we have a constitutionally-protected right to be wrong, we have a constitutionally-protected right to be bigots if that's what we want to be, that there are all of us going through these different phases at different times. And so it's hard it's hard to catch that wave because you don't ever know where the edge is.
But I think that you guys are on it. I think that I've probably been on it too. And maybe some of us only get on it for short distances-- we catch the wave and then we fall off. But there are enough of us right now that I see us in a new period of chaos. And it's in those periods, they're cyclical, that the democracy is redefined, that that's when we have access to the reset buttons, and that we're on another one of those right now.
And that's the opportunities that I hope that you guys have enough sense to seize. Because I think that that's probably the greatest hope that we have, because we're in one of those periods where everything is up for grabs. And we can shape it. And I think that's what I've done with the National Park Service, without ever knowing that that's what I was doing. Because it's only obvious to me in retrospect.
LUVVIE AJAYI: So you've talked about this crazy--
So you talk about these chaotic times that we're going through. And I think having and holding on to joy is a form of resistance.
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Yes.
LUVVIE AJAYI: And I also think hanging with a wolf pack of women is a form of resistance. What brings you joy? What, like, makes you bolt out of bed in the morning?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: I think maybe it's that at 96 and still having new experiences for the first time, I never know what the day is going to hold. I have found myself in a conference room at our park, in a Skype session with a class of 11th graders in Eugene, Oregon, or sitting there participating on a panel that's in the Annual Flower Show at Philadelphia.
I never know when those experiences are going to come out. But they're constant because we're in a state-- we're in a stage here in history where there are such constant and regular changes happening. We used to-- to count generations in generations, and now they're in five-year cycles. And my sense that it's moving so fast, the excitement that I never know what tomorrow's going to bring. And it guarantees me a new experience at least once a week.
LUVVIE AJAYI: So we are blog twinsies, in that we started blogging the same year, 2003.
BETTY REID SOSKIN: 2003.
LUVVIE AJAYI: I started blogging as a freshman in college. And you started blogging before the Park?
LUVVIE AJAYI: I started-- No, I started blogging because I was doing a family history. And in trying to trace the women in my family, I was using the Mormon's Family Centers. And in trying to trace the women, they get lost. I couldn't find them because the names would change, their circumstances would change, and they'd drop out of history.
And I began to want to know more about the fascinating women. I got my mother's family back to 1631, and my father's back to the 1400s. But I kept losing the women. And then I'd hit the slave curtain, because in both sides of my family there was slavery. And then I'd hit that curtain and I couldn't get beyond it.
I guaranteed that my children and their children were going to know what my life had been like. And so as a way of leaving behind tracks that I had lived for my own kids, I began to blog. And I was under the illusion that because I was sitting in my den at home with my iMac, or with my Mac One, or whatever it was at the time. Because I began-- I got my first computer 25 years ago.
But here I was in my bunny slippers and my PJs, and I would think that I was just talking to myself. And now there are thousands of people reading that blog. But I' am still only talking to myself. Because it's become the way that I process life as it goes out every time a new experience happens. In order to know-- because as I say, I don't have any peers anymore. There's no one to compare notes with. And so I'm putting the words out in front of me so that I can tell where it is I'm going. Because I'm my own model.
LUVVIE AJAYI: I was reading one of your blog posts. And you were talking about Imposter Syndrome. You didn't call it that, but you made a mention of how you're like, I'm afraid people are going to look up and be like, wait. What is she doing here?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: What do you mean, here?
LUVVIE AJAYI: You read-- you wrote a piece about not being sure-- basically, we consider you extraordinary. I don't think you do. Do you consider yourself extraordinary?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Now I do.
LUVVIE AJAYI: What made you switch?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: Because on the street I'm known as Notorious BRS.
LUVVIE AJAYI: So Notorious RBG and then Notorious BRS. You own that. So what did you-- when did you finally say all right, I am extraordinary?
BETTY REID SOSKIN: I think when I began to have the sense that I had outlived my peers, I outlived my parents, I've outlived my sisters, I've outlived one child. I'm on the edge of life, without a sense of future.
I know that life has become so precious now, not only in the months and the days, but now the hours. I wouldn't have it any other way. Because every single hour has so much more meaning than it ever has had. That along with advanced age, fear of dying begins to diminish. There's a rightness to mortality.
I think that to the extent that I've arrived at this stage with my senses intact, without dementia. That I can appreciate this, that that is what makes me exceptional. Because I'm here and can share that. That's an amazing thing. Yeah, I think that says it.
LUVVIE AJAYI: So-- and before we go, I want to congratulate you because today is the pub day of Betty's first book, "Sign My Name to Freedom, a Memoir of Pioneer Life." Let's give Betty, Ms. Betty Soskin, a round of applause. And buy her book. Order her book.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Andy Katz Mayfield, Jeff Rader, and Ahmed Musiol.
AHMED MUSIOL: How's it going everybody? Can everybody hear me OK? Great. So Andy and Jeff, co-founders of Harry's, ran this ad in the New York Times. Could we get that back up on the screen real quick please? And while they're pulling it up, why did you guys decide to run that ad in the times? Why are we here? Tell us a little bit about your philosophy.
JEFF RADER: So we ran that ad for international men's day this year. Thought it was really important that we as a brand have a voice around the evolving nature of masculinity. And for us, that actually started about five years ago when we started Harry's. When we built Harry's, Harry's is a men's grooming brand, and we wanted it to feel like a distinctly men's brand. But a brand that had positive impact on the world. And as we thought about the impact that we wanted to have, wanted to have impact on our team, on our customers, and in the world more broadly.
When we thought about our team, Andy and I being two male founders of a men's brand, we're worried that if we didn't focus on diversity early on, that we could end up in a room with 100 other guys talking about men shaving. And that wouldn't be good for our business, nor the type of company that we wanted to build. And so we focused a lot early on, on trying to hire amazing women with strong voices that could create a more inclusive culture at Harry's. And bring a diverse set of perspectives into the company. Today over 40% of our team are women. Over 40% of our leadership team are also women. Over 60% of the directors plus hires that we've made in the last year are women.
And we're definitely not perfect there. I mean, our goal is parity, but we felt like it was really important to have a diverse set of perspectives within the company. The second piece around our customers is we looked at the brands in shaving to start, and they espouse this, sort of, traditional male point of view that we just didn't resonate with. If you think about a shaving ad historically, it's a shirtless guy with a six pack and a perfect jaw line looking off into the distance, shaving while a girl is rubbing his face. Like it just didn't appeal to--
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: You can tell we don't really relate to that.
JEFF RADER: Speak for yourself. No, but, you know, we felt like we shouldn't be that. That we should be a real warm and normal brand that can actually talk to guys in a vulnerable way around the fact that like, hey, we don't know how to shave. Or didn't know how to shave, and had to learn that while we were Harry's. We are guys, normal guys like them, building a brand for them. And so we started having conversations with lots of guys around this masculine act of shaving. And masculine, and more broadly, and started to do a bunch of research on what it means to be a man.
And masculine today, and some of the stats that we came across were pretty troubling to us. You know, men are 3.6 times more likely to commit suicide than women. There's 2.7 million children with incarcerated parents in the world. 90 percent of those are men. 90 percent of all domestic abuse is perpetrated by men. Men are more likely to drop out at every level of the educational system. And so, you know, we felt like some of these norms that have been perpetrated in our industry, and more broadly are causing some of these, sort of, harder things on guys today.
And not that we're, sort of, here saying, oh poor men. We realize that men have been highly advantaged over the course of history, but we feel like the stereotypes that exist in the world should be questioned and evolved. And then a more expansive view of masculinity is an important thing for all of us. And that we as a men's brand should speak to that and should be a platform to espouse a more expansive view.
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: Yeah. And I think, you know, what we've tried to start to do in the last year or two is begin to put our money where our mouth is. And so the New York Times ad was an example of that. Where, you know, we wanted, as a brand, to sort of begin to have a voice on these types of issues. We've been really fortunate to partner with Wayfair and your company on a series called man enough. That is with your partner, Justin Baldoni, who's getting a group of guys together and actually start to talk about these issues. So from, sort of, a brand standpoint, we've started to have a perspective and a point of view internally.
We also feel like, hey, if we're going to have a brand that actually, you know, puts these values out into the world, we better be living it internally too. And so there an example is, you know, we took a look at our parental leave policy and, you know, thought a lot about our own experiences as parents. And my own personal experience as a dad. You know, who the norm was to go take a week or two off and come back to work. And I found that to be a really challenging thing to try to be a parent and come back to work. But perhaps even more interestingly for my wife, who is as career driven and if not more so than I am.
For her to actually take three months off and me take a week off, you know, created a really, sort of, unbalanced dynamic. And made the co-parenting thing really hard to actually live and practice. And so, you know, that experience was one that led us to this conclusion. That hey, we need not just a general parental leave policy, but an equal parental leave policy that treats birthing and non-birthing parents equally. So we've implemented that, and give everybody four months regardless of whether you're the birthing parent or the non-birthing parent.
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: Thanks. And then last, we also as a company have always tried to, sort of, be socially minded, and not just be about bottom line profits. We donate 1% of our revenue to nonprofit causes. And we've tried to partner with organizations that are also out there, you know, beginning a conversation on these issues. Whether it's challenging traditional gender stereotypes, or, sort of, catering to men who might be in a more troubled situation. So we've begun to work with organizations like the Representation Project, A Call to Men, the Bronx Freedom Fund, to also support them in their endeavors to drive a dialogue around this stuff.
AHMED MUSIOL: It's awesome. So you brought up something, I think, fairly important. Which is, kind of, hearkening back to the concept of how Man Enough works as well. Which is that it's-- for those who haven't seen it. It's a group of men having an intimate dinner conversation, and opening up very vulnerable. And we at Wayfair, we're looking at how we can go out and turn this into a reality. And thank God our brothers at Harry's decided to stick their neck out and jump on that train with us. But what's important about that is, we know we don't have the answers. And I think that's what you really pointed out, most importantly about how you guys are approaching this. Is that nobody is coming to the table and saying, we already understand what the end is.
We're exploring it as a collective. I think that can also lead to some fear for men who say, as I think we've all heard, right. Some men are afraid to even hire women now, because they don't know what they can or can't do. Some men are afraid to sit in a room with a woman alone in a professional setting. You guys seem to have figured out a way around that. But you're also held accountable. How do you navigate that?
JEFF RADER: Yeah I mean, I think a couple of things. One, we're definitely not perfect. And I think we think that this idea of progressive masculinity, or a more expansive definition of masculinity is still pretty messy, you know. I have a six-year-old son, and I think a lot about the norms that I grew up with, and what norms I actually like that I want to have him live with, and what I don't. And it's actually, it's really hard for me to, sort of, parse that stuff apart. And I think for us, what's most important is just to start to have this dialogue around the fact that a lot of these traditional norms of masculinity can be expanded upon. You can be both strong and vulnerable. Both confident and open. And I think it's important for guys to start to realize those things. And just talking about it in this setting, in other settings, I think, starts to, sort of, enable guys to open up and express their feelings which is the first step forward. And I think what's going to be a long journey here.
AHMED MUSIOL: And in doing a lot of this, you guys have a customer base to think about. Potential audience to think about, as well as a brand. Are you concerned at all that you might be alienating any of them?
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: I don't think so. I think if we take a stand on issues that, you know, may be controversial and wind up stepping into that controversy. You know, that's something that we're OK with, and we're accepting of. But I think our perspective is that there's actually a lot of guys that are wrestling with these issues. And that for a lot of guys, they almost feel trapped in their inability to actually have these conversations and articulate. And not to say like, oh poor guys. Like clearly, guys have had it traditionally pretty well. But we hope that by beginning to, sort of, talk about these things and have a dialogue, it actually is almost taking, you know, a weight off, and a relief.
And providing, you know, an avenue for guys to start to have this, much like Man Enough. And so, we don't feel like these issues are actually particularly controversial, or need to be politicized. They're very human issues that a lot of guys really do struggle and deal with. And that are yearning to have a conversation about. And it's going to be awkward and a little bit messy to Jeff's point, but we think that's just a really untapped, sort of, topic of conversation among guys.
JEFF RADER: A good example there is Andy and I last year during Father's Day wrote op eds around being working fathers. And wanting to be really good dads who, sort of, broke traditional norms of, you know, being a dad and, kind of, being the provider, but not necessarily being at home. And being there for our children with a lot of time. And how we struggled to balance that, plus really demanding careers. And we tried to speak as openly as possible and say, look, we don't have all the answers. And we actually, at the end of the op ed, sort of, said, hey like we'd love actually hear how other people are dealing with these things. And we got a real outpouring, I think, of other guys who are dealing with the same things. And trying to figure out how they also can break some of those traditional norms, and be different kinds of dads that maybe they had in the past.
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: And not just an outpouring of like, hey guys, cool article. Like people I hadn't heard from in 10 years baring their souls to me over email, because like it had clearly just struck a chord with an issue that they've dealt with in a deeply emotional way, but haven't had the ability to articulate. So I think those types of little signals gives us confidence that, hey there actually really is an appetite out there among a lot of guys to talk about this stuff.
AHMED MUSIOL: Yeah. I think that's a really great point. And, you know, we've all collectively experienced that with our collaboration as well. Hearing these very personal notes of men who are hungry to have this conversation. Are hungry to learn and evolve as I think we all are. And you guys are doing a shining example that through your partnerships. I'd love for you to maybe expand a little bit on how you guys are approaching these partnerships. Not only with Man Enough, but organizations like Calm and A Call to Men.
JEFF RADER: Well, and I think, you know, for us, one of the reasons why really excited to be here is we have, sort of, this internal mantra at Harry's, which we've found to be helpful. And the idea is that the future is orange. We make orange razors, if anyone has seen them so ties to our product. But the idea behind the future is orange is that, you know, in the future we don't think that men and women are going to be, sort of, only characterized by pink and blue. By these, sort of, overly reductive stereotypes. But that, you know, to be a good-- to be a good man is just to be a good human. And we think that we've seen that happen a lot over time. And we're excited that this conversation is happening. And to learn from everybody here around, you know, how other people are seeing that. And how we believe that these stereotypes over time, hopefully that's on us over time to evolve these stereotypes, and have them to dissipate and harm boys.
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: Yeah. And some of the insights work we've done with the leading edge of consumers suggest that, you know, a lot of guys and women are already there. Where they're like, this whole concept of masculine and feminine is actually outdated. Like we're just humans, and dealing with human emotions and human stuff. And I get society has a long way to go from where we are today to actually catch up to that leading edge. But that is, I think, underlying the premise of what we're doing. Which is this idea that like a lot of these, sort of, traditional tropes are just-- they're, kind of, masking the broader, deep human connection. That doesn't matter if you're male or female. We're all dealing with the same types of issues.
JEFF RADER: So to your question, when we partner with organizations, we want to work with folks who are actually raising the, sort of, consciousness over these things. Think about the representation project. They are trying to create content that is compelling. That starts to talk about and challenge some of these harmful stereotypes, and expand definitions around gender. And we think that's an incredibly important thing for us to do as a as a brand today. We think that brands have to have beliefs, and they have to share those beliefs with the world. It's one of the reasons why we like coming to work every day. And we also think one of the things that motivates our team, and hopefully a larger community to try to have a positive impact.
AHMED MUSIOL: That's awesome. Well I want to honor both of you for the work that you guys are doing. And thank you very much for spending time with us this morning. And I also want to thank all of you for being the teachers that we're looking to. And I think you guys nailed that on the head. I think we're all very collectively excited to be learning from each of you. So hopefully over the course of the conference, and moving forward even beyond the conference, we'll all be able to learn from one another and figure out how we can make a better world together. And it's wonderful to see two examples of how the bottom line doesn't have to be everything in a business. But the fact that we're all human really resonates at the end of it. And hopefully that's how we've learned how to move forward together.
JEFF RADER: Awesome.
AHMED MUSIOL: Awesome. Thank you guys.
ANDY KATZ MAYFIELD: Thank y'all for having us.
AHMED MUSIOL: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani, and Lydia Polgreen.
EMILY V. GORDON: Hello.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Hey, everybody. My favorite thing about the two of you is that you have not only a meet cute story, but you have like a marry cute story, that's, like, interweaved with, you know, some really scary, hair-raising stuff. When did you guys decide that this needed to be a movie? And what was the process of writing the film like?
EMILY V. GORDON: I think it was-- the events of this movie happened about 10 years ago. And it was about five years ago that we kind of first started talking about it. I think because you want to have, like, a little bit of distance. We wanted to be able to talk about it without crying. Because then you'd ruin your laptop the whole time if you're typing and crying. So we needed that-- we needed a little bit of time. And it was you that kind of were more-- I was more hesitant, I would say, to write about this event.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, Emily's more-- slightly more of a private person--
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: --than I am. Because I do stand up. And you sort of-- I'd gotten used to telling stories from my life. And so, yeah, it was five years as Emily said. But, you know, not to say that when we started writing it, it wasn't-- we weren't crying.
EMILY V. GORDON: That's true. There was a lot of crying.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: We ruined some keyboards. There was certain scenes we wrote that, you know, we cried when we wrote them. We cried when we rewrote them. We cried when we rehearsed them. And we cried when we shot them. And now we cry when we watch them.
LYDIA POLGREEN: I hope you guys buy your tissues at Costco.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: We--
EMILY V. GORDON: Just sleeve usage. It's a lot of--
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, I use toilet paper. Because I-- it keeps me grounded.
But you know, when you're writing about personal stuff, you're going to find that window where you can start to process it. And it's not paralyzing. But you don't want to-- but you can still access the feelings.
EMILY V. GORDON: I think-- and I had written-- there's a website called Lemon Drop that was, like-- it was like a lady's web site years, and years, and years ago that I used to write for. And they were like, do you want to write about being sick? And I was like, oh, sure. And it was two months after I'd gotten out of the hospital. And I wrote a really, really stupid essay called, I was in a coma, and I didn't change at all. Who reads that, you know?
And I-- it was really-- I, at the time that I wrote it, was like, this is exactly how I feel. And I have processed everything. And obviously I was completely wrong. And so I thought if I wasn't processed back then, but I thought I was, how do we know that we're ready to do this now? And I don't want some really dumb essay in movie form out there. It's scrubbed from the internet. You can't find it.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: It's the only thing that ever left the internet.
EMILY V. GORDON: But-- and so that's-- we really kind of talked through a lot-- are we ready to do this? And we eventually decided that we were. Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: So speaking of processing, Emily, before you became a writer, a comedy producer, you had a career as a family and couples therapists.
EMILY V. GORDON: That's correct.
LYDIA POLGREEN: I'm super curious if that work informs your work now?
EMILY V. GORDON: So much. If you guys want to be writers, go get a master's degree in therapy. Work for, like, seven years or so as a therapist. And then leave it. It absolutely-- and it's not a skill that other writers don't have. But I do think I got a bit of a crash course in-- my entire job was in kind of understanding what people were saying to me, and then also what they were saying to me as a therapist. And then helping them to kind of understand what they were and weren't saying to me. And then help them create solutions.
And that's a big part of writing when you're digging into characters. It's like, what is this person saying? And then what is this person not saying that they are desperately trying to say? And it kind of helps. That skill really, really, really helps. I took a really long way around to get it. But it really helps.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, because I think, you know, people aren't always comfortable-- especially dudes aren't always comfortable showing their emotions in the situation that causes those emotions. Sometimes it comes up later. A lot of times it comes out as anger. So what Emily had to do was look at this person, see what they're exhibiting, and then be able to find what reservoir of actual emotion it was pointing to. Because, you know, in a movie you can't have a character going around being like, I'm sad. You have to, through their actions and what they're--
EMILY V. GORDON: While they're eating cheeseburgers with four slices of cheese.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Seems totally appropriate.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah. You have to show what they're struggling with or what they're dealing with. So it was-- that's why Emily's really good at writing characters. It's because she doesn't-- she knows how to not portray them directly. She can portray-- because I feel like so much of it is you're just trying to hide the emotions. But you still want to be able to have the audience--
EMILY V. GORDON: That's what you learn as a therapist. You can't really ever hide it. You can try to hide it. It's going to come out somehow. You might as well figure out a good way to let them out.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Do you ever feel like she's doing, like, Jedi mind tricks on you?
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yes.
LYDIA POLGREEN: You're like, oh, I know what you're doing.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Oh yes. And then-- and then, you know, now I know her Jedi mind tricks. Or maybe that's what I'm supposed to think.
But yeah, definitely. We really-- you know, I know-- she's actually taught me a lot about-- you know, like, she'll be like, OK, this is not about you not being able to find this fucking pen. What is it really? And then I have to think and be like, you know, I always thought, like, there should be, like, a Shazam for anxiety. Because--
EMILY V. GORDON: That would be amazing.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah. Because I'm like, I know I'm anxious. But I have no idea what I'm anxious about. The other day I woke up-- she said-- I sleep talk and sleepwalk. She said I woke up in the middle of the night, put on my glasses, yelled, I suck, took off my glasses and went back to sleep.
LYDIA POLGREEN: That is--
KUMAIL NANJIANI: It'd be great to know what that was about.
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah, no idea.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: So she's been very, very helpful in making me-- making me understand. She will be like, you're not angry at me. You're angry at this other thing that's out of your control and whatever. And it was all this stuff that I really had not even-- you know, I heard the [? Harry's ?] guys before me talking about it. I think, for me, the big challenge of me being a grown up was learning to feel my feelings, or at least trying to be aware of them. Even body stuff. Like pain, I wouldn't feel pain.
Like, I would-- I went to the-- my dentist touched my jaw and was like, your jaw hurts. I was like, no it doesn't. He's like, but it really should. I'm like, it doesn't. Then I started meditating. And it's, like, mindfulness and, like, being aware. And then my jaw started hurting. It was hurting the whole time. I just didn't know.
EMILY V. GORDON: Welcome.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Yes. That doesn't sound like such a great deal, to be honest.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: I know.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Yeah.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: I've had days where I'm-- you know, I remember I would be super angry all day. And then I'd have water. And I'd be like, oh, right. I was just thirsty.
EMILY V. GORDON: Got to get in touch with those emotions, guys.
LYDIA POLGREEN: It sounds like you found your Shazam. So OK. So you make this movie. It's, you know-- I mean, it's an amazing story. It's a fabulous movie. Great critical reception. How has this changed your lives as a couple to see your story out there, people talking about it, thinking about it? There have been moments where, I feel like, you know, it's Kumail's movie. And Emily's central role in creating it sometimes gets kind of, dot, dot, dot.
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: So I'm just curious about the dynamic between you two.
EMILY V. GORDON: It's interes-- well, one thing we learned is if someone's racist, I take that on. And if someone's sexist, he takes that on.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Right.
EMILY V. GORDON: Because so often, when you have to confront it yourself you're-- it's not only belittling. But it also makes you-- sometimes people, like, oh, dismiss you because you're crazy. But when you're coming to the aid of your partner, that's a different thing. So that's one trick we've learned.
And I do think-- it's interesting, because I think it's partially sexism, absolutely. And it is also partially that Kumail is more well-known than I am. And so, for me, it's been working hard to kind of not take it personally when it happens. But still not letting it go by.
And it is amazing. Like, you know, people will-- yesterday at the Oscar luncheon, people were coming up to us, both nominees, and congratulating Kumail. And I just kept staring at them like this, until they were like, and you, too. And I was like, thank you. Thank you for congratulating me. And it's been interesting. I think what it's made us more as a couple is more having each other's backs on-- and seeing that. Because I think we're now both seeing it in a way that we hadn't fully seen it before.
But it's frustrating. It certainly is. It's frustrating for people to think that I wrote all the emotional stuff in our script. And he wrote all the funny stuff. Not necessarily the case. As you can see, he's very in touch with his emotions.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, guys. I'm a little thirsty right now.
EMILY V. GORDON: In every sense. And at the end of the day, like, you just keep-- we both work hard to just show up and do the work. Because that's the most important thing. But I think if I had to go out every day and say, no, no, no. Me, me, me, too. Me, too. Not in that sense. But just in the-- damn it. You can't really use that phrase anymore.
LYDIA POLGREEN: It's really hard.
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: I find it very challenging.
EMILY V. GORDON: But I'm also involved. I'm also involved. If I had to do that myself, I think it would be very demoralizing. So I'm very grateful that Kumail does that.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Well, you've been clapping back. I mean--
EMILY V. GORDON: Well, he claps back.
LYDIA POLGREEN: I see it.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Well, I mean, I think-- you know, working with Emily over the last few years pretty closely on a bunch of different things, I've realized-- in a way that should have been obvious but wasn't to me-- just how the system really is set up to-- the voices of women are not considered on the same level.
EMILY V. GORDON: They're not considered voices.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, it's really pretty remarkable. I saw it over, and over, and-- and Emily would point it out. She'd be like, did you see that? When I said that, they didn't say anything. But then you said the same thing later. And then they agreed to it. Over, and over, and over. And these weren't people who were--
EMILY V. GORDON: Sexist humans.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: That were bad people. I mean, clearly they were sexist, you know. But not in, like, really obvious ways. I think that stuff is really, really insidious. You know, I think there's a lot of obvious sexism that's very aggressive and easily pointed out. But then there's a lot of this other insidious, quiet--
EMILY V. GORDON: Just in the water, yeah.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, it's just in the water. And I-- yeah.
EMILY V. GORDON: I had a female-- a woman that I worked with at "The Carmichael Show." Her name's Aeysha Carr. She's a genius writer. And she was so good at kind of having her presence in the room. Because usually there's not that many women in the room. In that room there happened to be quite a few. And I said, how do you-- when you're talked over constantly-- because that such a thing. When you're talked over constantly, how do you deal? Like, what do you do? And she was like-- she's like, the thing I've learned is that men want to stop at some point. But they feel like it's their job to fill the air. So she was like, when I hear them start to peter off just a little bit, I just jam myself in there. And like, OK, now is my time. And then they're like, oh, grateful. Thank you. I'll stop.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Yeah.
EMILY V. GORDON: And it's such a weird little trick. But it works so well.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: You exactly just did that with me.
I was like, I don't know how to end this. Thank you so much.
EMILY V. GORDON: It's a great trick.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: It is. You know--
LYDIA POLGREEN: So-- sorry, go ahead.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: I was just going to say, I noticed that, again, because we've been through this together during the-- not to get super political. But during the debates, watching Hillary and Trump was really interesting. Because he was so aggressive. And it was like, oh, if she responds in the same way, she's seen as being-- I don't want to use the word. But you know, people would say that she's being--
LYDIA POLGREEN: A nasty woman?
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah. Or-- and then if she is above it, then she's cold, and removed, and unfeeling. So I-- really watching those debates, I was like, there's really nothing she could do here. And it's so unfair.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Well, you know, I think that we're all in this moment looking at the world and saying, so much is changing. Things are moving fast. But you know, I was watching the Super Bowl halftime show. And there was an ad on for a new show that Amazon-- which distributed your film-- is putting out starring Jim from "The Office." I always forget his name. And it's your typical, like, guy-centered big budget thing, right?
Now, Amazon just canceled "One Mississippi," a great female-centered show. They did not pick up Bridget Everett's pilot, a great, you know-- I mean, great female comedian and performer. They cancelled "I Love Dick." So it sort of feels like progress. But you know, in this time when supposedly female-centered storytelling is at the center of the world, and we're all for it and against it, I see three immediate examples of female authorship really being shut down. And not to mention your friends, Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito,
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: No one's picked up their show.
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: I mean, how-- are things really changing?
EMILY V. GORDON: I do think that they are. And I think-- I-- it's interesting, because I think in the past, none of those shows would have even gotten a shot. And so then we wouldn't even have the existence of them to discuss them going away. So if that's progress, it's sad progress. But I mean, it is a matter of just keep getting chances. Because it is also true that constantly there are tons of other-- all-- so many shows get canceled. So many pilots never get picked up. This was-- those specific examples were pretty high-profile ones that-- it's an interesting move, for sure.
But I do think-- I think there are more shots being given, especially in TV. Because TV now has-- it doesn't have to apply to everyone. But everyone can still watch them and enjoy them. And I think we're getting more and more chances to tell stories that are not Jim from "The Office."
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, but I also think it's not enough. Because things have been so arid for so long, just a little bit looks like a lot. But it's not a lot. We've had, you know-- there aren't that many female-centric stories. There aren't that-- there aren't enough female-centric action movies, superhero movies. You know, everyone points at Wonder Woman. But how many--
EMILY V. GORDON: That's one.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: --superhero movies have come out in the last five years? Just today I was telling someone. I was like, you know, I saw "Black Panther." And it was-- I really loved it. And I realized, like, how all superhero movies were so similar to each other. And then this one was different. And I realized how-- just how similar they were because of how different this was. And someone was like, but superhero movies are all different. I mean, look at "Logan" and "Deadpool." And then I was like, what do they all have in common? Do you not see that they're all, like--
EMILY V. GORDON: White dudes.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Yeah, and we've had friends pitch shows to networks where they're like, you know, we already--
EMILY V. GORDON: We already have a black show.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: We already have a black show.
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah.
LYDIA POLGREEN: OK, we're almost out of time.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: It's true.
EMILY V. GORDON: Yeah
LYDIA POLGREEN: Quick, Makers Man Kumail, how are you going to raise your voice?
KUMAIL NANJIANI: I'm going to raise my voice by listening to women and amplifying. And also-- but also fighting for the right for men to shut up sometimes.
LYDIA POLGREEN: All right. Emily, how are you going to raise your voice?
EMILY V. GORDON: I'm going to let him shut up. And I'm going--
I'm going to-- you know, it's my job to do whatever I can to make sure other women are present in all aspects. Behind cameras, in front of cameras, in rooms, doing all-- doing all the jobs. That's my job.
KUMAIL NANJIANI: And I think, you know, it's very easy for men to not say anything when they see an injustice. And the problem is still there are men who have more power than women in a lot of positions--
LYDIA POLGREEN: Really?
KUMAIL NANJIANI: --in Hollywood. You know, and I think sometimes there is-- obviously there are situations where women don't feel that they can fight back against the system. Because they don't want to lose a job.
LYDIA POLGREEN: Right.
EMILY V. GORDON: Very, very quick story. I was doing a photo shoot with a bunch of other writers. And they were doing a group shot. I was the only woman. Hah. And the photographer said, Emily, don't be afraid to be sassy in the photo. And we were all, like, standing there, like, very officially. And he's like, put your hand on your hip. Get sassy. And I was-- I was mad. But I was also like, this is so stupid. And I was like, really? Sassy? And then Jordan Peele-- I don't mind calling him by name-- said, would you like me to be more hood in the photo?
And I thought that's what we need. That's what I'm looking for. I can handle this on my own. But it's so much easier if I have that.
LYDIA POLGREEN: All right, Kumail, Emily, thank you so much. These guys are awesome.
EMILY V. GORDON: Thank you guys.
HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, Fei-Fei Lee.
FEI-FEI LI: Good morning. Good morning, Makers. Good morning, everyone. Such an honor to be here. Let me start my talk. A few years ago, as you saw in the video, I started a summer outreach program at Stanford University to encourage high school girls from diverse backgrounds to participate and get involved in artificial intelligence.
I have one vivid memory of delivering this opening lecture. I was in a room full of ninth grade girls, most of whom have never even set foot on a university campus before. It was a complex lesson. I was really geeking out with them. And they were eager to learn. There was excitement in the air, but a little bit of nervousness too.
As we finished this really long technical discussion, I wanted to inspire them more. So I described how what we have learned. This computer vision technology can help doctors and nurses better track their hand hygiene practice in the hospital, reducing hospital-born infection that kills almost 90,000 patients per year in the United States, several times more than car accidents. I'll never forget what I saw at that moment. Across the room, these young faces just lit up. I saw passion, amazement, and even some relief, as this incredibly technical field that they just heard about suddenly took on a human form.
And this is the story that I want to share with you today, the deeply human side of artificial intelligence. In fact, I hope to convince you that there's nothing artificial about it at all, especially at this very moment. AI is about to transform our world in ways we can barely imagine.
I want to start with the story about a breakthrough moment in science. And it goes back to 1959. Researchers, Hubel and Wiesel, used electrodes to connect the visual cortex of an anesthetized cat to a loudspeaker, and then projected patterns of light for the cat to see. This allowed them to literally hear the cat's visual perception at work, and showed for the first time that the brain is organized by neurons stacked in a hierarchical fashion with each layer responding to increasingly complex visual pattern. And this work got them to win Nobel Prize a couple of decades later.
But more than 40 years after their work, I had an opportunity to be a summer research intern student at Berkeley to replicate this experiment in a neuroscience lab. Hearing the neurons responding to patterns of light in the darkness was a mesmerizing experience. No words can describe the sense of magic I felt at that moment, realizing that this rich and beautiful visual world we see all begins with such tiny neurons in our brain that get excited by simple patterns of light.
So I began to wonder, what if one day we build computers that can see like us. It turned out I wasn't the only one asking this question. Computer vision was already a growing field with thousands of researchers worldwide by the time I started my PhD study in 2000 right here in LA, Pasadena, not very far. Progress was slow but steady. And the amazing technology we now enjoy is possible because thousands of researchers dedicated their careers to establishing the science.
But teaching computers to see is easier said than done. A modern camera easily registers millions of color pixels when taking a picture. But deriving meaning from all that data is an enormous challenge. It's no surprise it takes Mother Nature 540 million years to get this solved right. A human can understand staggering amounts of details about an image with only a split second of glance, and then describe it in language, also very unique to humans.
One of my first experiments as a PhD student quantified this. And then it becomes the Holy Grail of the field of computer vision, to be able to teach computers to see and talk about what it sees. Luckily for me, I arrived at a very unique time in history. The internet was exploding. And that gave researchers access to more data than ever before. The sheer variety and depth of images available online made me think about the constant visual stimulation that children experience as they grow up.
So I saw a parallel in that. What if we could use the internet to help our algorithms explore the world in a similar way? So as you saw in the video, around 2006, 2007, I began a project with my students and collaborators called ImageNet, intended to organize enough images from the internet to teach computer algorithms what everything in the world looks like. In the end, it added up to 15 million photos across 22,000 categories of objects. It was the largest AI dataset ever publicly released at that time.
But here is the tricky part. In order to actually teach an algorithm and benchmark its progress, every single image must be sorted and labeled correctly. We needed to sort, clean, and label from a pool of billions and billions of images. In the end, we had to rely on crowdsourcing by hiring over 50,000 online workers across 167 countries to do this. So yes, we did get a little crazy. But that's the fun of science.
The hard work did pay off. By combining ImageNet with a class of algorithm known as convolutional neural network, or more popularly known as deep learning, and modern computing hardware, like GPUs, AI was revolutionized and ushered into the modern era of what we know today. By 2015, just a few years after ImageNet was released, computers were recognizing objects better than humans in head to head contest. Algorithms built on ImageNet have advanced the state of the art, state of the computer vision considerably with error raising image recognition steadily decreasing every year.
And my students and I began to make major progress on image captioning, the very problem I could only have dreamed of during my PhD studies. And the photo descriptions you are seeing now behind my back were some of the first ever machine-generated sentences for computers when they see a picture for the first time. But we still have a long way to go.
Today's AI is great at pattern matching in narrow tasks, like object classification, facial recognition, and language translation. But there's so much more to human thoughts and intelligence than simple patterns. AI is now targeting loftier goals, like natural communication and collaboration with richer sense of context and even emotional perception. I call this human-centered AI.
And many of my colleagues are working on projects that exemplify it. For example, examples include applying machine learning to education, understanding satellite imageries to track poverty more precisely, or developing diving robots to explore the deep ocean when divers cannot or it's too dangerous for divers to go. And along with my students and collaborators at Stanford, we're working with senior care facilities on early studies of AI assistance for nurses and family members.
But just like any technology, AI is a tool in the hands of people. In fact, I believe there are no independent machine values. Machine values will come from human values. Without thoughtful guidance, many of the benefits of AI could cause unintended harm as well. This is a complex challenge. And I don't pretend to have all the answers. But I do know we have an obligation to build technology that benefits everyone, not just a privileged few. And the first step is understanding who is developing it. So how well is humanity represented in the development of AI today?
I'll be blunt here. Diversity is sorely lacking in the world of computing. And that includes AI. The National Science Foundation reported in 2016 that fewer than 30% of computer science majors are women. A similar 2016 study showed that fewer then 15% are left by the time they reach their professorship. Similar numbers are found across most of Silicon Valley's tech companies. And the statistics for racial minority groups are even worse.
If this technology is going to change our lives, our society, and perhaps the entire future of humanity, and I actually believe it will, then this lack of representation is an absolute crisis. Outreach programs, like the one I started at Standford, are a powerful first step. I co-founded it four years ago with my former PhD students, Olga Russakovsky, now an AI professor at Princeton, with the goal to inspire girls and under-represented minority students, not just to pursue tech jobs, but also to recognize the human impact that AI has to the world.
The result is AI4ALL, a nonprofit organization focusing on increasing diversity and inclusion in AI through education programs. We specifically target high school students of all walks of life, especially those underprivileged communities. AI4ALL was launched in 2017, seed funded by Melinda Gates's Pivotal Ventures and Jensen and Lori Huang Foundation.
From Stanford, AI4ALL is already partnering with Berkeley, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon University, and Canada's Simon Fraser University to bring our AI education to a diverse group of students. No technology is more reflective of its designers than AI. From the architecture of its algorithms to the applications, it's our responsibility to ensure that everyone can play a role from the beginning.
I've always summed it up like this, we know AI is going to change the world. The real question is, who is going to change AI? I hope many of you in the audience will consider yourself to be part of this answer. We need you. Thank you.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Karlie Kloss and Megan Smith. Hello Karlie.
- Hi Megan.
- Welcome to Maker Stage.
- Thank you. This is incredible.
- It's incredible, and there's a theme going. Hearing Fei-Fei Li just now was fabulous. So we were talking backstage. There's so many programs, and so many different things going on. And I really wanted to have the chance to highlight the collection of what you were doing. And when we were in the White House, we were looking at how to get more of us, Americans, women, people of color, everybody in the planet, to be into these power tools. Into this area with their own creativity. And the components of that that you're using are all the, kind of, best practices. So let's dive into one of it is just do it. Like having the experiences. So with the camps. Talk a little bit about how you came to that and what you're doing.
- Well I think you said the key word creativity. And I think that's one thing that, you know, a lot of people don't realize is that using code and technology in really creative ways-- I mean there's infinite possibilities with what you can do. And I think, you know, seeing what Fei-Fei is doing with AI, and kind of humanizing that also. And the thing is, first and foremost, it has to start with learning the skills and access to the learning. And I think that's how you make bigger impact on, you know, what the future leaders of our, you know, in these industries look like, because you have to start with teaching them the ABCs of code.
And so what you just saw is a little clip of what we, a series that we did to really highlight and tell the stories of incredible women who I love what you-- your presentation before about the hidden figures. I mean, there are so many incredible women in so many different industries who have very technical skill sets, but are working in really creative industries, and doing really creative things with their technical chemical engineering background. And I think that's what's so exciting. It's about all the creative ways that you can use, kind of, this technical knowledge to supercharge whatever it is you're passionate about.
And so we have summer camps to teach girls to learn how to code.
- And they're incredibly successful. So they have summer camps. One of things is, you know, getting started. So 9 out of 10 parents would like coding taught at school in the United States and you have computer science for all. And that's a movement, and you guys are a big part of that. You know, you didn't have access at the time to jump in everyone's classroom, but you got moving. And you're really scaling. And your kids are-- starting to come into the industry, and mentor. It's a really cool method. So talk a little bit about the beginning and where you are.
- So I'm a fashion model, first and foremost. I don't have a master's in computer science or, you know, I want to learn more about AI and so I'm going to go and join--
- There was a business deal going down.
- Yeah, exactly.
- We're going to get the AI camp.
- But I'm a model, but I'm also a student of life. I'm super curious, and I was kind of watching all of these-- the ways that technology has transformed our world, media, fashion, commerce, communications, everything. And I, just as a consumer of it all, I was like, what is this language that these entrepreneurs are building incredible businesses? What do they know that the rest of the world doesn't know? And code, it's a language at the end of the day. And so I, over the summer, I had a bit of time off. And I took a code class, and I was like, wow, this is incredible. How you can scale problem solving, you know, its creative problem solving at the end of the day. And even though I'm a fashion model, and maybe not what somebody would think that an engineer would look like, you know, I am first and foremost, I've met so many brilliant incredible engineers which is why we did this series. And it's just the tip of the iceberg.
There are so many women who are, kind of, combining this technical skill set with creative problem solving in ways that they're really passionate about. And I have this audience of young women who follow me, and I kind of had this aha moment, where I was like, learning how to code has been transformational in how I see the world and opportunities to build businesses, or make social impact, and scale that using tech. And I didn't have access to this Learning when I was growing up. I went to great public school in St. Louis, and I wanted to create access to the learning, first and foremost. And then also bring light to incredible women who are already the Trail Blazers, like yourself. I mean, who have defeated the odds to lead in their industries.
- Yeah, and right now you guys, I think, you're going to be in 50 cities this summer. This is a-- it's free.
- So what so what we started is Kode with Klossy, and it's a two week long summer camp where we teach girls Ruby, HTML, CSS, basically how to build something. And it started out with 21 girls that I just underwrote a scholarship for, and what they went on to do was incredible. They were winning hackathons, and scholarships, full rides to incredible schools. And I was like, OK, how can I grow this and reach more girls? And we had thousands and thousands of applications for those 21 spots. And so it's grown organically.
We have 1,000 girls we are going to teach this summer, and 50 camps across the country, and I'm really excited because, you know, it's about these girls. We actually have one of our scholars here, Sophia [? Angle. ?]
- Stand up, Sophia.
- She's brilliant.
- Sophia is awesome.
- So you took your calculator and started programming Adele's song Hello, is that correct? Yeah, and had it start singing, which is fabulous. And then moved in--
- That's just the tip of the iceberg. She's going run the world at some point, and she is-- but it's been incredible to see, you know, Sophia has not only taken these skills and, you know, transformed your own future. You know Swift, you did an internship at Apple, got your sister excited about code. She's been in our camp. Sophia is also a teacher and a mentor to other students in our camps, in our community, and I'm so proud of you, and you're the reason why we want to keep growing this.
- It's awesome. And one of the things that Sophia-- Sophia, I saw you said, you wrote, a piece about this. You said, the glass ceiling is not just above my reach, restricting my ability to grow. It's suffocating me, pushing me down into stagnation. But I refuse to allow the glass ceiling built by racial injustice and stereotypes to restrain my strong present capabilities. So let's go. Yeah.
I noticed she's already found Cady Coleman, who's one of my mentors, who's a spatial astronaut and was on the space station for six months. And so you guys keep talking over there.
- Yes, exactly. Katie also is going to be a part of our series as well, that you saw a clip of. So she is a superstar. We're excited to have you part of that.
- Thank you, sweetheart. And one of the key things is to be able to do the thing. Because there's those aha moments, you know, I had it. I'm a mechanical engineer, and I had that Jimmy Carter was putting solar panels on the White House. And our teachers made us do science fair, and I thought, I'm going to do something about energy. And it's that moment, you're reading the books, and you start to invent something, and then as soon as you do that, you're like, oh, I can do this. So it's practice makes permanent. And so doing that.
And then also this cascading. Like you're now mentoring younger people. So their whole program has not only-- you're teaching teachers. Extraordinary program. You've got mentors. You're starting to work with media, and highlight stuff. Technical women, scientific women, are so invisible. Invisible in tech and invisible in women. So we have to really see this group.
- They're there, and they have been. I mean, as your presentation showed before, they've been there for a long time. But it's actually bringing light to them. And I think that's the power of media, and that's something that's so incredible about makers and being here on this stage, and just having the conversation, and creating content to bring light to extraordinary women like who was just on the stage before as well.
- Yet you guys have partnered with folks like [? Flatter ?] and one of the things about [INAUDIBLE] it's a team sport. You're doing this but teaming up with all different groups. Melinda Gates was on the Grace Hopper stage, which is 18,000 women in computer science gathering every fall saying, there's many pathways, and even more pathways. And so the teacher program is really exciting because you're getting teachers, which is one of our greatest areas. We need more teachers to train quickly in months, not years, into this. And you guys are doing that.
- Yeah, I think it's multifaceted, and it's a big problem. Like you said, we all have-- I think there's a lot of ways that we can work together to really make impact. And Sophia is a prime example of just this impact, that this ripple effect. I think teacher training is something that is a really big part of this as well, and that's something that we're focusing on. We're going to train 100 teachers to run our 50 camps this summer. So we're going to train these teachers. By the way, all these camps are free, and we're paying these teachers this summer so that's supplemental income over the summer. But then they'll take this back to their communities and schools, and be able to start computer science programs in their schools that don't already have them.
It's a combination of having incredible teachers, who are already passionate, incredible teachers, and just giving them the skills to learn to code. And then also having a really dynamic, exciting way to learn this. And that's just, you know, that's the curriculum component. And it is creative and exciting. Code and tech, I think people get really scared by it, because they don't understand it, necessarily. And it's like, it's a language, and also it's such a-- I mean, I've grown up in the fashion industry. It's a very creative industry, but you know, I actually think pairing that creative kind of outlook on anything with kind of a technical understanding of using code or technology to really scale whatever you want to accomplish. I mean, it's a literacy that everyone should have, whether or not you want to be an engineer. And I think that that's what CS for all, and even I think access to that learning is key. And that's where it starts.
And that's how you change, you know, the pipeline of talent in the future. You know, you want to have more diversity in your companies, in the tech industry. It starts with having access to the learning for everyone, not just self-selecting boys who think that that's interesting to them. But having access to the learning for everyone will have huge and--
- And broaden. Life if you broaden what you understand it's for then anybody, whatever you're interested in, it's actually for that. And so encouraging people, having ways in, using media, seeing that it's high impact, and so we're going to shift into see somebody extraordinary. I mentioned science fair. There's a young woman here who is really driving impact in her community and in the world, and stepped right up. And let's get Gitanjali Rao, come on out.
- Another super star.
- We're going to come over here. We'll be back with you, OK. Let's hear it.
- All right. How many of us are absolutely sure that the water we are drinking is safe and contaminant free? For those of you who somehow know, you should be considered lucky. I'd like you to meet [? Manaya, ?] [? Obimepo, ?] and Nicholas. They are residents of Flint and are among thousands of adults and children exposed to the harmful effects of lead in drinking water. However, this is not just limited to Flint. Approximately 5,000 water systems in the United States alone have lead and can cause lead poisoning, and other health effects.
This is also a worldwide problem. Health effects of lead in water range from just headaches and nausea to possible seizures and even death. To add on, approximately 17.6 million people had lead in their water and did not know about it for months after. The current solutions in the market are either too cumbersome, take time, or are expensive. They don't look at detection, accuracy, and contamination levels together. The happenings in places like Flint and the impact that this is having on our community inspired me to look for a solution.
Introducing Tethys, the quick and accurate tool to detect lead contamination in water. It's based on the idea of carbon nanotube sensor technology, and MIT material science is working on using nanotubes sensors in order to detect various gases. I decided to expand this idea to apply for liquids as well. To detect lead in water. Let's look at how it works. My device includes three parts. A core device housing a processor, a Bluetooth extension, and a power source. A disposable sensor cartridge that attaches to the core device, and lastly, a smartphone that connects over Bluetooth to display results. Let's look at the science side of this. When I dip my device in the water I want to test, this disposable sensor cartridge includes carbon nanotubes especially treated with chloride ions.
Let's say the water here has lead in it. The lead in the water reacts to the chloride ions within the nanotube forming lead chloride molecules. This increases the amount of resistance to the flow of current as well as decreases the conductivity. I'm measuring the conductivity drop and the resistance change using the programmed processor. To make it easier for the user, I decided to add a Bluetooth extension, which sends all the data to a custom app on your mobile phone, which displays easy values of safe, slightly contaminated, or critical.
I'm currently working on evolving my device even further by redesigning the device structure for ease and compactness, also by refining the carbon nanotube sensor for accuracy. I'm currently partnering with Denver water in order to perform tests that require correct instrumentation such as interference and false positives. I hope to spreads awareness by volunteering for the river watch of Colorado and writing articles as well. I believe that the purpose of science is to make a difference. I want to think of Makers, Discovery Education, and 3M for giving me the opportunity to participate in the competition, learn more about innovation, and also be here to speak with all of you and share my story.
- That was so good.
- Thank you.
- Good job.
- Gitanjali, that was really awesome.
- Thank you.
- So I was just at the Sundance Film Festival, and one of the new films is called Inventing Tomorrow. And it's got kids who are in high school, they're just-- you're in seventh grade right now. But it's starting--
- It's not crazy. Seventh grade.
- But one of the things that, you know, I was lucky because I went to inner city public school. But my seventh grade science teacher required
- Megan give her money. She's done this before. [INAUDIBLE] do it again.
- OK, we'll do more. We'll do that. You know, the kids in-- my science teacher, our science teachers, made us do science fairs as part of the curriculum. And so we just did this for science class. And so thinking of it more like PE, and art, and how you just do, is what you guys can see. You're in a science magnet right now. Can you talk a little bit-- you used an Arduino. I happened to have in an Arduino here. Doesn't everybody have an Arduino? This is just a little board in your cell phone. What are you doing at school that's helping you see that you can just do things like this? You can just fix stuff, and work with your friends, and talk a little bit about that.
- Yeah, so I have a lot of mentors along my way like 3M scientists who helped me out, Dr. Schaefer, and some of the staff at Denver water, such as Dr. Hernandez Ruiz, they really helped me understand more about innovation, the instrumentation, and that girls can have the capability to do STEM related activities, and innovate as well.
- Yeah, Karlie is working a lot on trying to get over those stereotypes, right. And so the kind of media that you're doing.
- Yeah, I wasn't doing this in seventh grade, though. Let's be clear. It's pretty awesome.
- So I think, you know, one of the things I thought when Flint happened is I wish that we had been where you are now, and that all the young people, that maybe the seventh graders, could together have measured all the water in the country. Because we would have taught people how to do that, and then you could have shared your data sets, and started working with adults who who might help, who might be ahead of you, or maybe some seniors in high school, who might be ahead of you. But you can think about the way that we write Wikipedia all together, why aren't we working on this? And the young people in Pine Ridge have a lot of uranium and other challenges on that reservation. And so they've just started to do what you're doing, internet of things and testing, and that. What do you see that could happen if all the kids were connected, and what would you guys do together?
- Yeah, so that would be a dream come true if all girls, and even boys, my age--
- We'll let the boys in a little bit. Just a little.
- --my age, middle schoolers, if we all learned to innovate, come together, solve problems. Something that I think would really make an impact on this really happening today is for everyone to find a mentor out there. And so I urge each and every one of you to take in a student as a mentee and guide them along the path that they are passionate about. I am passionate about innovation, and together we can make a difference, really.
- I agree entirely. I agree. And, you know, it's really awesome to see. Your dad is here with you. My dad was a huge, huge advocate. He was always so excited about NASA, instilled that in me. I get so excited about space things. It's true. The impact you can have on one person can be a game changing for their life.
- And use the network to just ask for other resources, take them places. The other thing is, we face a lot of hard challenges. When I was doing science fair and my friend Mira was doing a project in a place called Love Canal, which was a huge super fund disaster for the country. And on our panel, one of her judges was from Hooker Chemical , and so we had really interesting learning about politics and about how-- having the kids in on our hardest problems with us as part of their schooling, which is what Lorraine's jobs is doing with the XQ School Movement. And so I'm looking forward to learning more about your school. And what we call is not a smart city, but wise community, and you are part of the leaders of the wise community, so thank you very much.
- Thank you.
HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, Lily Tomlin.
LILY TOMLIN: Well, Jane was going to be here today. But thank heaven they had this film, because it's more, she's just closer to you and more, you get to see her better. And she gets to talk about everything that she wanted to talk about, about "9 to 5," because she was the producer of that film. And she did make "9 to 5" to show the issues that Karen Nussbaum had talked to her about, the struggles for women office workers. And it led to so many changes, including the formation of the National Association of Office Workers and the winning of millions of dollars in higher wages and promotions of women workers.
But there are two issues still front and center, equal pay and sexual harassment. A few months ago, Jane and I started working in Michigan with the organizers of ROC, that's Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. I am a blue-collar kid from Detroit. Gloria Steinem is from Toledo. Little did I know that back in those days she was 90 miles away. And I could have gone to visit her. But I never did. I probably would have hitchhiked.
I'm a blue-collar kid from Detroit, where a paycheck to paycheck means something. And having worked as a food handler and a waitperson many times in my life, somehow working with ROC just naturally interested me. One of my first jobs was as a tray girl in a local Detroit hospital. After serving the maternity-- I forgot to tell you Jane was sick. That's why she's not here. She has a terrible flu. She didn't even come to work yesterday for "Grace and Frankie." OK, I forgot to tell you after all that.
After serving the maternity patients their food trays, we'd wash all the dishes. And then we'd send them back to the main kitchen for the next serving. I was young and full of mischief. So I would take all the dish towels, roll them into a nice bundle, and then I would walk out into the hall cooing to the bundle. And there would be all kinds of visitors gathered around every patient's doorway. And I'd walk down the hallway. And then I'd stop at the laundry chute. And I'd toss the bundle.
Also, I was a cocktail waitress in what today would be called a brestaurant. But that lasted about one weekend. And I was also Howard Johnson's waitress of the week, self-appointed. I was so full of mischief. But I was growing more and more aware of the inequities of being a woman restaurant worker, especially a tipped woman restaurant worker.
The restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest growing employers in America. It employs 13 million people. 70% of tipped workers are women. And 90% of these women report experiencing sexual harassment on a daily basis. The restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC. This extreme harassment can be traced largely to the sub minimum wage system. When your base pay is $2.13 an hour, which is the federally mandated pay for tipped workers, and remember 70% of that 13 million people are women, you must look to your tips not your employer for enough money to live on. ROC is working for One Fair Wage. I probably didn't even mention that we went to Michigan and worked for ROC. Did I say that?
LILY TOMLIN: Yes, OK. And they are working for One Fair Wage. Well ROC is working for One Fair Wage, which allows those who work in the industry to receive a fair-based wage. And they keep their tips. Employers in seven states, including California, follow this One Fair Wage policy. Not only are their restaurants thriving, but all seven have half the rate of sexual harassment.
LILY: Saru Jayaraman is one of the founders and the president of ROC, and she is director of the Food Labor Research Center at Berkeley university. Saru is going to tell you about all the work that ROC does and their plans for their future. Saru Jayaraman.
Thank you so much to Lily. She's amazing. She's an amazing spokesperson for these issues. So as you heard, my name is Saru. I am the director and founder of Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, ROC United. We're a national organization that has grown over the last 16 years. Really following the explosion in the industry.
The restaurant industry, as you heard from Lily, right now is the second largest and absolute fastest growing sector of the US economy. It's almost 13 million workers. One in eleven Americans currently works in the industry. One in two of us in America and in this room has worked in the industry at some point in our lifetime.
How many of you worked in the restaurant industry at some point in your life? Will you look around the room? This industry touches all of us, and it especially touches women. And it impacts our lives for the rest of our lives in so many ways.
Because this industry is the largest and fastest growing, but it continues to be the absolute lowest paying, and that is because of the money, power, and influence of a trade lobby called the National Restaurant Association, which represents the Fortune 500 chains. The Applebee's, the IHOPs, the Olive Gardens.
And it turns out that this trade lobby has been around since emancipation of the slaves when it first demanded in an earlier form that they not pay their workers at all. A mostly black, former slave workforce. Pay them a $0 wage and let them live on tips. And that idea of a $0 wage was made law in 1938 as part of the New Deal. And we went from a $0 wage in 1938 to a whopping $2.13 an hour in 2018.
And a $2 wage increase for women over an 80 year period. And over that 80 year period, the Restaurant Association has said, it's OK. These are white guys working in fancy fine dining steakhouses. They're making a lot of money in tips. When in fact, 70% of tipped workers in America are women. They are women working at those same restaurants-- IHOP, Applebee's, Olive Garden.
They suffer from three times the poverty rate of the rest of the US workforce and the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry. Because when you're a woman earning $2, and $3, and $4 an hour in 43 states, your wage is so low it goes entirely to taxes. You're living on your tips. You must put up with whatever the guy does to you, however they touch you, or treat you, or grab your butt because your income, your base pay comes from the customer, not from your employer.
And besides the millions of women that put up with this every day of their lives, there are millions more young women, our daughters, in fact, many of us, for whom this is the first job in high school, college, or graduate school in which we are taught, encouraged, told by managers, dress more sexy, show more cleavage, wear tighter clothing in order to make more money in tips.
And that has led to so many actresses, senators, and celebrities saying to us, you know, I've been sexually harassed more recently in my career and I didn't do anything about it because it was never as bad as it was when I was a young woman working in restaurants. Which means our industry is not only the worst on this issue, it sets the standard for the rest of the economy for women.
But there's good news on the horizon. As you heard, seven states got rid of this ridiculously lower wage. California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, and Alaska. They require the employer to pay the full minimum wage with tips on top. And we have half the rate of sexual harassment in these states. It proves the point that this is an issue about power.
Because when a woman has power, when she actually gets a wage from her boss, she doesn't have to put up with anything and everything from the customers. And she actually doesn't have to be told by her manager, dress more sexy, show more cleavage, wear tighter clothing to make more money in tips because she doesn't feed her family entirely on tips.
Even better news, there are 500 restaurant owners across the country from Danny Meyer, to Tom Colicchio, Alice Waters, and many more that are working with us to change this policy in many more states. And thanks to Me Too and Time's Up, the Golden Globes, which I was at, and so much more attention that we've gotten over the last few months thanks to the leaders of this movement.
Governor Cuomo just announced, thanks to Me Too, that he will make New York the eighth state to eliminate the lower wage for tipped workers. It is a huge victory. And we're also moving this issue on the ballot in the state of Michigan where we have some of the poorest women in the country working in Detroit and upstate Michigan for $3.52 an hour.
These are women who largely don't vote, feel completely rejected by the political system entirely, are suffering from enormous levels of poverty and sexual harassment, and are excited to go to the polls to vote themselves an actual wage. This is how we're going to turn this country around. By giving these women an actual wage and a voice, and half the rate of sexual harassment.
There is also some bad news. President Trump has announced a new rule that would make tips the property of owners rather than workers. This would exacerbate sexual harassment in our industry by forcing women who already have to put up with harassment from customers to turn around and face it from their managers who now have the right to keep their tips.
But I just told you how we can win. It's women from different sectors standing together and saying, we all face these issues. We all need more power. And together, we can win it. We won it with Governor Cuomo. We can win it in Michigan. We can win it across the country and in every sector. And that is why I'm so happy to be joined by women, sisters, from other sectors as well today.
First I want to introduce Jenna Watanabe, who is a member leader of ROC and also a restaurant worker for 15 years. Also Monica Ramirez. Monica Ramirez who has achieved stardom. She is one of the leaders of the Farm Worker Alliance, has spent her life fighting for women in farm, among farm workers, and actually wrote a letter on behalf of farm workers to Hollywood calling for this kind of solidarity that has led to the victory we're seeing now.
And Mily Sauceda who also-- Trevino-Sauceda, excuse me, who is actually the founder of the Farm Workers Alliance and was a farm worker herself for many years. Thank you so much to all of you for being here with me. Jenna, do you want to start by sharing your own experiences in the restaurant industry?
JENNA WATANABE: Yeah, absolutely. So thank you, Saru, and thank you everyone at the MAKERS Conference for inviting me here. And I just want to call out all the really courageous women and voices that we've been hearing, and also the women that we haven't been able to hear from that may not be able to speak up or raise their voice at this time.
So my background, I worked in restaurants for 15 years. I spent 11 years working as a server in Salt Lake City, Utah and I spent four of those in San Francisco, California. And let me tell you the differences are astonishing. In Salt Lake City, you make $2.13 an hour as a server, which means that all of your income comes from tips. Which means that your income is totally reliant on the kindness of strangers or, in my opinion, the approval of strangers.
When I moved to San Francisco four years ago, that was the first time I actually got paid the same minimum wage as everyone else. Something that was actually above $2 an hour, which started at $10.74 and it's now up to $15 this year. So one of the things that was the most challenging aspect of working in Salt Lake City making $2.13 an hour and working off of tips was dealing with all of the disadvantages that came with that.
So you have income instability. If you are sick for a week, then a quarter of your month's salary is gone. There were four or five months-- it was very seasonal. So there were four or five months where I would be stressed if I could even pay rent. And then probably the most undisclosed but just commonly known is the really, I would say, very sexist undertones that kind of permeate the industry.
Unfortunately, it comes from all different types of people. Not just from the guests, but also from the managers, also from the coworkers. Unfortunately, I have a story that kind of encapsulates this. I was actually taking an order for a family once and I remember asking a little boy how he wanted his steak cooked. And right at that moment I felt this right on my butt.
And I turned and it was a stranger. A man I had never seen before. And he just gave me the sleaziest little, shh. And I didn't know what to do. I was in sever mode. And all I knew was, OK, I have to play it cool. I can't react because if I do, I could lose my job. I could lose tips. I could not make money. So regretfully and painfully, I didn't do anything.
When I went to the back of the kitchen, my behind the scenes, I was met with an even more disappointing response. A lot of my coworkers told me to just take the compliment. A lot of them told me to go out there, ask for money. And unfortunately, one of my managers told me that I should appreciate it while I'm young because when I'm older I'm not going to be getting this kind of attention.
So that was my experience working in fine dining. Imagine what it's like for women that don't work in fine dining. Imagine what it's like for women who are just starting their jobs out. And she was mentioning earlier Applebee's. All those areas, those places where women are starting out and they're just getting exposed to this really toxic culture.
I want to say that a lot of women deal with much more difficult things than what I experienced. And I think it's time that-- well, first of all, I want to acknowledge that there's a lot of restaurant employers that don't respond that way and that they should be honored. But for the ones that are abusive, for the ones that do continue this, that's why I'm a leader in fighting for one fair wage with ROC. Because honestly, the abusiveness of the restaurants' time's up.
SARU JAYARAMAN: This is no less of a problem among farm worker women. And so Monica, we'll start with you. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with this work and the work [INAUDIBLE]?
MONICA RAMIREZ: Right. Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. I come from a migrant farm worker family. My family's used to crisscross the country working in the fields. Picking cotton, and cucumbers, and other crops. And so both sides of my family, my mother's side of the family and my father's side of the family were able to settle out of agriculture and stay in one place year round, which was in Ohio where I was born and grew up.
And as I was growing up, my parents really wanted us to understand our history, understand where we come from. And specifically, they wanted us to know about the conditions of migrant farm workers. And so they talked to us a lot about the fact that farm workers are underpaid, sprayed with pesticides, exposed to dangerous working conditions.
And growing up hearing all the stories of the things that my family members had gone through working in the fields, that really was what inspired me to dedicate my career and my work to representing migrant farm workers. I went to law school to become a farm worker attorney and in 2002 was able to found the first legal project in the United States specifically focused on representing migrant farm worker women.
Because migrant farm worker women face not just wage theft and being exposed to pesticides and other dangerous conditions, but sexual harassment is a major problem for farm worker women. And the few reports that exist tell us that 80% to 90% of farm worker women say that sexual harassment is a major problem.
And it's so common that the fields are referred to as green motels and fields of panties. And so my work is very much focused on representing farm worker women and joining in solidarity with farm worker women to solve this problem because we know it's one that has long lasting consequences. And so that's how I came to the work.
And in the course of creating the first project that I mentioned to you, which started in Florida, I reached out to Mily Trevino-Sauceda who is my mentor and has been my mentor for almost 20 years. And Mily created the first farm worker women's project in the United States in the state of Florida called [SPANISH].
And really, through Mily's leadership and mentorship, I was able to really kind of find my own voice as an activist and advocate. And because of Mily's vision, a number of us worked together for many years-- you know, almost I guess 20 years, and in Mily's case, for almost 30 years-- specifically focusing on the problems of farm worker women.
And as a result of all the work that we were doing all around the country as lawyers, as social workers, as activists, there was this idea that emerged in 2010 to create the first national farm worker women's organization that would bring all of us together. And so actually, I want to just take a minute to call out the fact that we have some of our hermanas here with us today.
So [INAUDIBLE] from La Mujer Obrera. [? Alvida ?] [? Carbajal ?] from the Farm Worker Association of Florida.
[INAUDIBLE] from the Worker Justice Center of New York. These are just some of our members, but today we now have 17 organizational members around the country, all of whom are working specifically to address the issues that impact farm worker women, and really came from the vision of Mily to organize all of us and bring us together.
And we now work advocating and organizing from the fields to Capitol Hill. And we are pushing to ensure that farm worker women no longer experience workplace sexual violence, but that they also do not have to confront wage theft and some of the other issues that I mentioned.
And so I want to give an opportunity for Mily to talk about her vision and sort of what's brought us here today as a greater movement. So Mily, will you talk to us a little bit about your vision for the farm worker women's movement and how you started it?
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: OK. As Monica said-- gracias, Monica. [SPANISH] I do come from a migrant farm worker family. I did start working as I was eight years old. We were migrants, some of us. We were ten children in our family and it was very, very hard. And we went through so much. Some of us were born in the state of Washington, others in Idaho, and others in Mexico, and it was very, very hard.
So not until we arrived in California was when we, we learned about the United Farm Workers movement. And our family, I was working with my, my father and my brothers picking lemons. It's a hard, very hard labor. You have to as you pick and fill up the sack, it's 90 pounds. And that's 16 of those sacks in the bin.
So we would have to, like, get three, four, or five different bins during the year. The, the day. Excuse me. And not only that, it was all the issues that our families confronted. And not only us, it was the pesticide drift, women being discriminated because if they were pregnant, that you could not, you were not allowed or there were some jobs you were not allowed to, to be in.
And there were just different issues. The exploitation. All that. Our family learned about the UFW and we-- we started organizing with. And UFW was only involved with grape workers and we were lemon pickers, so we, we did that kind of organizing.
And it was a life experience because from there, I wanted to organize everywhere. But of course, in other places I was fired. It was very easy to fire people. Especially women. So but with time, our family was very well known in the Coachella Valley here in California.
And so with time, I started doing other kinds of jobs and then we did a needs assessment with farm worker women in the late '80s. I was an organizer. I was doing a lot of things and, and working with legal services, helping out and whatsoever.
But then when we did this, the needs assessment, it was very, very interesting because the needs assessment was bringing out the issues of farm worker women. The women were sharing their, how they felt. What were their experiences about housing issues, worker related, even harassment.
But they never said it happened to me. It happened to someone else they knew. The domestic violence, the violence against women, the discrimination. Everything was happening to someone else. While I was organizing in the fields, I was sexually harassed not only once, I was sexually harassed many times. And why? Because I was, I was raised very, very, very traditional.
And so when I had the chance or I wanted to talk about what was going on when the person was harassing me, I went to my dad and my dad, bless his heart, he didn't know how to deal with it. So he started instead of asking me, started questioning me. So I silenced myself. I just cried. And from there on, I just didn't want to talk about it.
And it, it happened at other times in the same place, and then in other companies the same thing to the point that I did, I silenced myself. I didn't talk to anybody about it. I was afraid, I was ashamed, I felt shame, all that. And then not until we did the needs assessment-- that was like 10, 10 years after. Or 11 years after.
The women were sharing that that was happening to someone else. And I remember saying the same thing. It happened to someone else. So just to make this shorter-- because people that know me know I talk a lot-- but what, what happened from there on is that the women were sharing stories where it was the first time many of them said, someone was really interested in hearing their story.
And so when we, when they shared that, it was interesting because then they said, we asked them actually, you are sharing with us all these problems and issues. Do you think there, there's, do you have recommendations or you think something can be done?
The majority of them in their own words were saying to me-- oh, mind you, a lot of them were complaining about what was, if the services were being given good, good services, and they all complain about the services. But just at the end they said, if there could be an opportunity for us to organize or actually get together to support each other, to do things, to do something for others, then let's get together.
And that's how we started that movement. We never thought it was going to become a movement. We just wanted to get the women together. And the women themselves-- right now the woman that, one of the women that was the co-founder, one of the co-founders, [INAUDIBLE], she's 96 years old and she's still working with us as one of our organizers.
Talking about since 1988 until now, OK? So I'm very happy for that. We started that movement with the [INAUDIBLE] Campesinas here in California, and this is how we started meeting other women in other parts and met Monica. And then we organized more women and blah, blah, blah. OK, [INAUDIBLE]?
MONICA RAMIREZ: So Mily, what would you, what would your advice be to folks in the room or folks who are watching via live stream about how to get started as an activist from the lessons that you've learned?
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: You know, one of the, one of the biggest things that I would like to share is this. We-- even we, even if we come from the community that we want to be targeting to work with, we're not the saviors. Let's listen. What helped me was listening to what was going on with these women because then they helped organize, help us organize more, more surveys.
And listening, and then believing that they have the strength, and it's about us supporting and helping them so that they can enhance their leadership. It's, it's just, I mean, if we trust, we, we believe in them, we have the patience. I mean, we all are very resilient. So let's believe in each other. Let's trust each other.
Because we are very smart. We're bad ass. And we call ourselves chingones in Spanish, which means bad ass women.
MONICA RAMIREZ: So there are a lot of things that are happening politically, and certainly it's been difficult with some of the immigration enforcement that we're seeing. You know, more than half of migrant farm workers in our country are undocumented. And so for farm worker women who are undocumented, threats of violence against them by perpetrators who use their immigration status is a huge concern.
And it's one that we've been trying to advocate on for a long time to get a new immigration bill passed. So will you tell us a little bit about what you believe some of the priorities are for your industry and what, what members of Congress or other politicians can do to help?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Yes, so first there's something everybody can do, which is that we have an app that tells you how restaurants fare on issues of wages, benefits, and promotion practices. You can find it at our website, rocunited.org. You can use it to communicate with restaurant owners. Say, I love the food here, love the service, but I'd love to see you do better on your wages or I'd love to see you get an award in this app.
But policy wise, you know, as Jenna mentioned and I said, we need one fair wage. We need it. It's such a reasonable request. Let women in this country be paid an actual wage from their employer rather than having to rely on the kindness of customers or tips. Let them have tips above wages as they were always intended to be, and let them keep their tips.
President Trump, let them keep their tips. And we can win that together working together as farm workers and restaurant workers and many other workers across, you know, all of us work. So all of us working together as women to fight for power, greater power and equality on the job.
We just want to close by asking each of us what brings us hope, you know, as we move forward in this work. Do you want to start?
JENNA WATANABE: Sure. I would say something that brings me hope is people that fight for the underdog and really advocate for people who are underrepresented. And then, you know, more importantly, conferences like these that are including voices from all different levels, all different backgrounds. Because let's be honest, it's not feminism unless it's intersectional.
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: I want to read this. And it's short, so, OK. I wrote this. It says, bringing visibility to this issue has opened doors to hope and trust. The power of the collective-- that means that all us, of us working together-- has gone stronger as we work in solidarity to support each other.
We need to support each other. Not just say we're going to collaborate with each other. We will continue strong and we will succeed eradicating the issues that are creating so many problems against us. Let's work together. That's hope. Thank you.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Thank you.
MONICA RAMIREZ: For me, I, all, all of us in this room give me hope, and the fact that we're all here together listening to the issues that impact our lives. And I think certainly from what we saw with Time's Up and what happens at the Golden Globes, of us really looking across sector, across movements to figure out how we can both lean on each other as well as support each other. That gives me hope.
I think that I don't recall ever seeing something like this happen in the way that it's happened in the last couple of months. And I believe that it's by working together and by lifting each other up that we're going to be able to address some of these issues including ending sexual harassment and making sure that people are being paired, paid fair wages. But we have to keep meeting like this, and we have to keep having these conversations in order to make the changes that are required.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Totally. And I would just add what gives me hope is that I have a five and a seven year old, two little girls. And whether they choose to work on a farm and be a farm worker or work in a restaurant, both of which are highly dignified professions with a lot of skill and integrity and should be valued as the professions that they are.
Whatever they choose to do, I will be darned, I will be darned if by the time they grow up they experience what we've experienced or what the women in restaurants and farms experience. I will be darned if all of our daughters experience it because time is up for all of us and for our daughters as well. And I think we can express that power and unity through a unity clap. So Mily, will you lead us in a unity clap?
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: OK. Let's all stand up. All right. The unity clap is that you start clapping slow and then you go quicker and quicker. But then when you do the max, then you go slower, slower, slower, slower. And then we're going to say, can we do it? And you say, yes, we can.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Si, se puede.
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: And then I'll say it in Spanish, si, se puede. You're going to say, si, se puede. OK. Is that too much? OK. All right. OK. Let's start.
Can we do it?
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Can we do it?
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Se puede!
AUDIENCE: Si, se puede!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Se puede!
AUDIENCE: Si, se puede!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Thank you. Thank you.
- Ladies and gentlemen Lena Waithe and Liz Plank.
LENA WAITHE: Hey.
- Oh wow, wow, wow. Hey.
LENA WAITHE: Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.
LIZ PLANK: I believe the exact subject line of the email that I received with your video from Makers was, "NO, YOU'RE CRYING! " in all caps.
LENA WAITHE: Got it.
LIZ PLANK: And, in fact this video is amazing. Your story is amazing. You are amazing.
LENA WAITHE: Thank you so much.
LIZ PLANK: I usually try and crowd source questions for interviews, and this is the first time I've not been able to do that, because every person who sent a question was, can I hang out with her?
LENA WAITHE: Oh! Yes, yes is the answer.
LIZ PLANK: So, obviously-- yeah. I mean, same. Yeah, you have a lot of fans out there.
LENA WAITHE: I see that.
LIZ PLANK: So how are you feeling right now? "The Chi" has been renewed another season, which is amazing.
LENA WAITHE: That's good, that's good, Thank you, thank you.
LIZ PLANK: How does it all feel?
LENA WAITHE: You know what? It feels normal. It feels like that's what's supposed to happen. I think I feel as though my life and my steps have been ordered. And so I think I continue to be obedient, and put my head down, and do the work, and just really try to be kind, try to be a good collaborator. And I think try to be as raw, as open, as vulnerable, as broken, as I can be. Like, own it, own all of it, and just try to work through it on the page. And then, hopefully, someone can see their brokenness in mine when they watch something I've made.
LIZ PLANK: What does it mean to own being broken for you?
LENA WAITHE: I think it means just to sort of look at all the flaws that you see in the mirror and zoom in on them. I think that's the thing. It's like this sort of thing I try to do when I'm writing is run toward the problem. If there's something bad happening to a character, say, OK, how can we get right up in that problem's face? Because that's the interesting part. Whatever people are bashful about or nervous about or ashamed of, that's the magic, that's your story, that's your testimony.
LIZ PLANK: Do you think people run away from those things?
LENA WAITHE: It's interesting, because I try to mentor as much as I possibly can, so I have these sort of I call them baby writers that I work with. And it's funny because they'll-- and I was very blessed. I got to go be a mentor for the Sundance Episodic Lab, which was phenomenal. It was an amazing-- it was really an amazing experience for me. I don't know if the Fellows were very excited. I was excited to see them. But the thing was I would read their material, and it was obviously really good and really strong, or else they wouldn't be there, but when I would talk to them they would give me these interesting stories. They would tell me these things, and I was like why is that not in here?
LIZ PLANK: Right.
LENA WAITHE: The story you just told me is a much better cold open than what you currently have. And they'd go, oh, well, I don't know. I mean, that was a sort of crazy thing that happened and I don't really talk about it much. I'm like, well the thing that you're afraid of is probably going to linger in an exec's mind long after they've read it. That's going to make them not just have a general with you, but want to call their boss into the room and say this is something we need to make. And that's the difference between writing pretty and writing naked.
LIZ PLANK: Right. And you had incredible mentors. You worked for Ava DuVernay. Everyone, when they talk about you, they just say your work ethic is incredible, no matter what level you worked at. What would be your advice for young people who are entering the industry?
LENA WAITHE: I mean, honestly? You have to be obsessed. You have to be obsessed. I think it's a thing of the trait of mine is I'm obsessive. I'll still-- I remember being a kid and watching episodes again and again and again. I'll still, much to my fiance's chagrin, I'll put on an episode of "Mary Tyler Moore" and just study it and look at it. Like The Lars Affair is a perfect episode of television. Or look at "A Different World," Mommy Dearest is one of my most favorite episodes.
And that's the thing. Looking at these episodes of television that are old but still looking at them now and finding things and saying, oh, that's interesting. They waited a beat before he comes in to deliver that, and that gets a bigger laugh. Things like that, I'm obsessed with it. And it's funny because I really relate a lot to athletes. There's this really great documentary that Kobe did about his sort of life, and it's true. He's aware that he's like, I know I'm not like everybody else. I know I'm not normal. Because he's like, even in my darkest hour, I'm shooting free throws. Because that's all he had, you know? So for me, it has to be everything to me, to be amazing at it. And the funny thing is, I don't look at the Emmy as like, oh OK, I've mastered the craft. It's like no, in that moment I was the best I could be in that moment, but I'm still very much a student. I'm still trying to perfect it. I think that's the goal, is to be as great at it as I can possibly be.
And it does feel like second nature, it does when I'm typing or it comes and the muse is there, I can feel it. But to me, it's a constant marathon. I'm always trying to figure out how can I be phenomenal?
LIZ PLANK: Right. I love that. Speaking of an Emmy award, your Emmy award, which is incredible and made amazing history. You were the first woman of color to win for comedy writing. There was only one other women of color who had ever been nominated.
LENA WAITHE: Mindy.
LIZ PLANK: Mindy Kaling, who's amazing as well. You know, I was at home watching that, and I was so excited and ecstatic, but at the same time it was like, how did it take so long? How do we ensure that the floodgates are open and the diversity of voices remains in Hollywood?
LENA WAITHE: Well here's the thing. Hollywood is a heightened version of society. So--
LIZ PLANK: Yep.
LENA WAITHE: The playing field is not leveled. It still isn't, and I think there's this element that we start to trick ourselves, because you say, oh well, we've got "The Chi," you've got "Insecure," you've got "Atlanta," aren't we doing better? Shouldn't we pat ourselves on the back?
But if you look at the numbers-- look at how many channels exist. Look at how many streaming services there are available. And then come tell me about how great we're doing in terms of shows created by people of color, run by people of color. It's still a white man's world.
The interesting thing is there's a shift happening where people want their entertainment to reflect the society in which they live. It still doesn't, but we're getting there. And I think to me it's not just about visibility, but it's about the quality of the content. So people say, oh I know we've come so far. It's like, well we still don't have a black "Handmaid's Tale." We still don't have a black "Mad men." We've got black folks doing black folk shit.
LIZ PLANK: Right.
LENA WAITHE: Which is comfortable, it makes people feel comfortable. It's interesting to me where you see certain shows where you have black people being athletes, being musicians, being drug kingpins. That's comfortable. It's a comfortable role for us to be in. My goal is even to make people-- I think that's interesting about "The Chi." The main character is a chef. That's his dream. I think to me it's, how do we make audiences uncomfortable when watching characters of color doing things that they do?
LIZ PLANK: And do you think-- you talk about the reflection, that Hollywood needs to reflect society, or it's reflecting a society that's not advanced enough. Do you think that Hollywood can change society as well?
LENA WAITHE: I think we can try. I think the most powerful pen is one held by an artist. I think the images that people see, that they take in every week-- I think more people watched "This is Us" than watched The State of the Union speech.
LIZ PLANK: Yeah. Clap. No? OK. Yeah, let's clap.
LENA WAITHE: But I think-- and I think the image-- because I recently watched the episode of "This is Us". It was a great episode after the Super Bowl. But I don't think people realize how revolutionary it is to see a black man tell his black daughter that she made his heart do a somersault. You know what I'm saying? That is extremely important, to see a caring father loving his daughter in the intimate, quiet way. Not unlike a white father would love his white daughter. I think that's really-- that simple scene is revolutionary. I think seeing people of color be human beings on television is revolutionary, because, again, we're trying to unlearn these things that we've been fed for so long. I mean, whether it be Stepin Fetchit, Mammy, you know, Sambo, these the piccaninnies, those were the early images in Hollywood. That's what people saw.
And so I think it's still-- what we're trying to do is sort of almost a therapy now, of showing a character like Essa on television. Showing a character like Brandon on television. Showing a character like Donald Glover's character on "Atlanta." I think this is a part of the chemo, and it's the early stages. We're still weak, we're still throwing up, we're losing our hair. And we are not in the clear yet. It'll be a while, but I think it is going to take not just those who are making the art, but also we need the execs, who may not look like me. Because oftentimes when I walk into a room, I'm pitching to folks that don't look like me, don't walk the world in the way I do, and don't live in the same neighborhood I do. But I have to do my best to explain to them why my story is important.
And I think that I'm very blessed. You know, I think the execs at Showtime, know they were like, yeah, this story needs to be told. That is an ally.
LIZ PLANK: So what do you do when you have to go into these rooms?
LENA WAITHE: I've got to go, you know, be amazing.
I love-- it's interesting, because it's like, you know, I think a lot of us, black people in the industry, can relate to Barack Obama. We know what it's like to have to be excellent just to get in the room. I really like-- I can't remember who said it, but I think Tom Hessy said it-- but in order for Barack Obama to be President, he had to be Harvard graduate, he had to be the first black president of Harvard Law, he had to be just this phenomenal, exceptional human being. All Donald Trump had to do is be white and rich.
LIZ PLANK: Right. Which is, you know. Is he rich?
LENA WAITHE: I think there's still an element of that in Hollywood. To be successful, there's fewer things you need when you're a white male. When you're a black woman that happens to be queer, you got to run a little bit faster, you've got to work a little bit harder, and you damn sure better be phenomenal on the page. Because they read me before they met me at Showtime, and then they met me. And they said, OK. And I'm grateful for the collaboration, I'm grateful for the marriage, and I look forward to a long relationship with those guys.
LIZ PLANK: Barbara Smith, said that instead of the word allies we should use the word co-conspirators. What would you like people in the industry, white men in particular, if you would like to tell them what to do, I would love to know what you think they should do to be-- because I would ask you how do we make Hollywood more diverse, but I think it's unfair to put that burden on people of color, on women. What would you like allies in the industry, or co-conspirators, to do?
LENA WAITHE: Honestly, to get out of the way.
Because the truth is, let us do our thing. Not let, I don't want to ask for permission. We're going to do it. I'm going to make art, whether I have a platform or not. But I think the biggest thing is there's an interesting thing about-- I've sort of realized about particularly people of color. Even though we're speaking English, we're speaking another language when we talk to each other. And I think sometimes that may bother those who are not people of color, to be standing near that conversation and not be fluent in it, and not be a part of that conversation. I think there needs to be a new day in which our white allies are grateful to witness that dialogue rather than needing to be it.
LIZ PLANK: It says, "Please wrap up." Now it says, "Time's up." Um, so--
LENA WAITHE: Time's up.
LIZ PLANK: Thank you so much, Lena.
LENA WAITHE: Thank you for having me.
LIZ PLANK: I wish we could do this for hours. And thank you all for listening. Thank you.
LENA WAITHE: Thank you all.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy Lublin and Ann Miura-Ko.
NANCY LUBLIN: So, before we sit down, we want to bring out Gitanjali. Because this is kind of the tech startup panel. Come on. It's the tech startup panel. So, go ahead.
ANN MIURA-KO: So, you know, I loved the pitch that you gave. And as a venture capitalist, I invest in startup companies. And I noticed, though, one thing that was missing. And as a mom, I'm always going to look for that one thing that was missing and tell you what it was. What was it?
GITANJALI RAO: Funding.
ANN MIURA-KO: Funding. You have all these people here. You forgot to ask for funding. So take two, take two.
NANCY LUBLIN: So you've got--
ANN MIURA-KO: Tell them.
NANCY LUBLIN: So, you've got $25,000, right?
GITANJALI RAO: Yes.
ANN MIURA-KO: What else do you need?
NANCY LUBLIN: What do you need?
GITANJALI RAO: Another $25,000.
ANN MIURA-KO: OK, so she's got a prototype, what you saw. It's going to have to go through a lot of experimentation. We are not starting until this room raises $25,000. She has [? men-- ?] we have one taker.
NANCY LUBLIN: So we've got one--
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'll take the whole thing.
NANCY LUBLIN: You'll take the whole thing?
ANN MIURA-KO: Take the whole thing.
GITANJALI RAO: Thank you.
ANN MIURA-KO: And it's that easy.
NANCY LUBLIN: That's amazing.
ANN MIURA-KO: It's that easy. You've just got to ask.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you.
ANN MIURA-KO: You go get her email and get the check. That's how it works.
NANCY LUBLIN: That's how it happens.
ANN MIURA-KO: That's how it works, everyone.
NANCY LUBLIN: All right, we can start now. Thank you. Awesome.
ANN MIURA-KO: Thank you, so--
NANCY LUBLIN: That's just how it happens, right?
ANN MIURA-KO: That is-- that is the way Silicon Valley works. I know, I've been there a while. So Nancy, I wanted to get an update on-- on this Crisis Text Line. Because I actually looked at those numbers, and I was thinking those look impressive. But not nearly as impressive as reality today.
NANCY LUBLIN: Yeah, so all of those numbers are different. I'm about 20 pounds heavier. And we have now processed, at Crisis Text Line, almost $62 million messages.
ANN MIURA-KO: Amazing. How many volunteers?
NANCY LUBLIN: In the last-- Rachel's here, right? In the last 28 days, how many active volunteers? it's like 3,962 I think in just the last 28 days. So almost 4,000 active volunteers. And we've trained about 12,000 people to be crisis counselors. And we've trained them all online. But yeah, 62 million messages in just over four years because there's a lot of pain.
ANN MIURA-KO: But tell us a little bit more, though, about what Crisis Text Line does.
NANCY LUBLIN: So Crisis Text Line actually grew out of dosomething.org. Because Do Something became the largest organization for young people in America, because one, it's not homophobic. And two-- that was funny, OK-- and two-- and two because it texts with its members.
ANN MIURA-KO: Right.
NANCY LUBLIN: And that's how anybody here who has a young person, that's the only way you communicate with them. So that's how they communicate with each other. And so that's how they communicate with Do Something. And so we would text people campaign ideas, and they-- 200,000 kids for each campaign, I mean great open rates on text.
But we would get out-of-flow messages from kids saying things like I'm being bullied and I don't want to go to school, or my dad's hitting my mom, what should I do? And then we get a message from someone who said he won't stop raping me, it's my dad. He told me not to tell anyone. And the letters, r u there? Yeah, so we gave her a hotline number, for him, I don't know.
And the next day came in and-- did we hear from this person? No, we never heard back from that person. And within two weeks I was like look, if they're going to text us this stuff, let's start a hotline by text. My-- you follow the user, right? So, like, people wanted to share this stuff by text, so let's launch. So we launched in the end of 2013, and it's been 62 million messages since.
ANN MIURA-KO: Amazing. What great impact.
NANCY LUBLIN: Yeah, it's largely about suicide and depression, a lot of anxiety, family issues, I mean everything. We see the opioid addiction, we see all of it. And it's all handled by volunteers, people like you, over the age of 18 who apply online and go through a background check and about a 34-hour training, and then-- and then save lives 24/7.
ANN MIURA-KO: So Nancy, it just seems-- the thing that I'm struck by is the fact that you've done these incredible nonprofit organizations today. And each one, in and of itself, is a massive movement. It moves millions of people into action. And I'm just-- I'm just trying to understand from your perspective, you know, what moves you from one movement to the next?
NANCY LUBLIN: I like solving problems. I like solving problems for real people. So all three of these organizations were helping people be better people. So Dress for Success was helping women reclaim their destinies. I have to say, this is so weird to talk about, because Gloria Steinem was the original advisory board member to Dress for Success. And I'm eternally grateful for you. I was-- no one knew how to pronounce my last name, and I was nobody in New York. And I bought a ticket to a charitable event, and then I begged her to let me walk her home. Which now would be so creepy, and you should have called the police. And instead-- and instead, by the end of that walk home, I mean literally we were at the door and she was like, OK, OK then. And I asked--
ANN MIURA-KO: The startup life.
NANCY LUBLIN: And I asked her to be on the advisory board. Gitanjali, that's how it's done. You just-- you stalk people.
ANN MIURA-KO: That's how it's done. Stalk people.
NANCY LUBLIN: Yep.
ANN MIURA-KO: Follow them home.
NANCY LUBLIN: And so I'm super grateful to you. But yeah, from Dress for Success, to Do Something, to Crisis Text Line, it's about helping people be better people.
ANN MIURA-KO: So I have to ask, what's next?
NANCY LUBLIN: Well, you know what's next. So-- so Crisis Text Line, we have this incredible data corpus, right, like Fei-Fei was talking about earlier. It's 62 million messages, all sentiment, right? It's an unstructured data set. It's entirely sentiment, it's largely severe situations, and it's tagged by humans on both sides. So we've learned incredible things about moving people from hot moments to cool moments, and words we should use and not use, things to say.
ANN MIURA-KO: Can you give examples?
NANCY LUBLIN: Yeah, so here's two examples. So one example is the word overwhelmed. We've all felt, at some point in time, overwhelmed, or you've had someone in your world say overwhelmed. The counterweight to overwhelmed, you want to guess what the counterweight to overwhelmed is, to that word? Most people guess calm, content, control. It's strong. So you take a feeling word. It's actually balanced out best by a capabilities word, not another feeling word.
But my favorite way that we use data is we stack rank based on severity. So when messages come in, we take people by severity instead of chronologically. So instead of going in the queue just by order that you text in, if you're suicidal or homicidal, we take you first. The way that we figured that out was by using some of the fancy AI that Fei-Fei was describing earlier today.
So we built an algorithm. We originally put in words like die, suicide, overdose instead of those-- if those words show up, make those people first. And then we layered on machine learning to the corpus and said, well what really ends up with us calling 911? Which we do about 20 times a day, by the way. For people at imminent risk of suicide or homicide.
And it turns out there are thousands of engrams, bigrams, and trigrams. So words and word combinations that are more powerful than the word suicide. For example, the word military, twice as likely for us to call 911 than the word suicide. Fentanyl and other named drugs like ibuprofen, Advil, five to 16 times more likely for us to call 911. The unhappy face crying emoji, four times more likely for us to call 911 than the word suicide. And so we put all of that into the algorithm. And that's how we decide who comes first and who comes second. This is using science and technology to save lives. And-- thanks.
And so-- so you asked what's next. So I have to brag about you too. So you asked what's next. Companies started calling us and saying can you teach our employees the way you taught your crisis counselors? So can you use some of that data and those learnings like--
ANN MIURA-KO: That ju-ju.
NANCY LUBLIN: That's ju-ju, exactly. I am a Jew. Yes. So can you use some-- can you-- can you use some of that to teach our employees empathy and compassion? And I was like, well that's interesting. Would you pay us? So we, this morning--
ANN MIURA-KO: The nonprofit turned into--
NANCY LUBLIN: A for-profit subsidiary, exactly. So today's the birth of my first for-profit company. So, yeah. Except-- except classically, a Crisis Text Line gets all the equity. So everyone's clapping for my husband, but whatever. And-- and so, yeah.
So Crisis Text Line is the majority shareholder. And Ann is actually the lead funder. And there's other Silicon Valley and kind of iconic business leaders who funded this seed round of this company we called Loris, that's going to train people in companies to have hard conversations, like how to ask for a raise, like how to tell an employee that their performance isn't so great, like how to have a conversation with someone of a different gender. So the set of avoiding those conversations and leaving people out, you lean into them and you actually learn how to do this well. Because we're not taught how to communicate, we're taught--
ANN MIURA-KO: You're designing. You're designing the conversation.
NANCY LUBLIN: That's right. Conversational design.
ANN MIURA-KO: Which I always thought was so-- so fascinating because it's this one skill that we learn. We learn everything, right, we talk about in Silicon Valley. We design cell phones, we design the best software. But who's ever talked about designing a conversation?
NANCY LUBLIN: Right.
ANN MIURA-KO: And that's actually the fuel for everything. And so for me, like when you told me that story around why you are building this company, it felt like it was the most important thing at this time when we-- we've lost trust in so many things.
NANCY LUBLIN: Well, I'm grateful that you felt that way and feel that way. Because now this company can exist. And we started talking to companies, people are nominating companies that we should consider, to select, to bring into the beta. So if you know a company that is either really good at this, or really cares about this, or should really care about this and learn these skills, and have their employees learn, you know, customer service, talking to--
ANN MIURA-KO: Sales.
NANCY LUBLIN: --people who are angry and anxious about bills, or things like that, to learn what the right words are, right sentence structure. We'd like to help. And when [? Loris ?] makes lots of money, Crisis Text Line will make lots of money. And that's how the not-for-profit sector should roll.
ANN MIURA-KO: And tell me one more thing, why Loris?
NANCY LUBLIN: Oh, Loris because if you Google Loris, it is the most adorable, cuddly animal you will ever see. And if it bites you, it will fucking kill you.
ANN MIURA-KO: Kind of like a bad conversation.
NANCY LUBLIN: Kind of like a bad conversation. Like, you think this stuff is soft and sweet. People think, before they meet me, I'm soft and sweet. But actually, yeah, but I'm not. And so--
ANN MIURA-KO: I'm not either.
NANCY LUBLIN: Yeah, exactly. And so-- and if you get these conversations wrong, they kill careers they kill companies. So it's like that adorable-- like, it looks like an anime sloth. I don't know.
ANN MIURA-KO: I think it's incredible. Because it's it's probably very underestimated how important that data set is. But as Fei-Fei pointed out-- and I have a PhD in math modeling, so one thing I know is how important that data set is, how unique it is. And so being able to leverage that for something so meaningful is a really, really unique opportunity.
NANCY LUBLIN: We have 15 seconds left. And I'm going to get this in before we go, because there are so few venture capitalists like you. She's also on the board of Lyft. She was one of the original investors in Lyft. She helped build the team--
ANN MIURA-KO: Only take Lyft.
NANCY LUBLIN: There you go.
ANN MIURA-KO: Until the next [INAUDIBLE].
NANCY LUBLIN: Until [INAUDIBLE] speaks. Right, exactly. And Refinery, and it was really important for me to find an investor who was going to value, frankly, my not-for-profit background, and see it still as a proprietary advantage and lead. And see the possibility here. So--
ANN MIURA-KO: Absolutely.
NANCY LUBLIN: I'm just grateful. And shake and bake.
ANN MIURA-KO: I'm so excited. Shake and bake.