I want to thank Kristi for her very clever video and I want to congratulate all the other honorees and leaders. And I especially want to thank my good friends at the YWCA for this honor although I’m not sure that I’ve really done anything special to deserve it. Dorri said that I’m only the 3rd man honored with this award in its lengthy history. I guess if you hang around long enough almost anything can happen. Hopefully we’re all here today to help make some critical changes happen that are long overdue.
My interest in supporting, mentoring and advancing women in several dozen businesses over the last 50 years (take that Michelle!) has always been totally selfish. Apart from the fact that I have 2 terrific daughters and 4 amazing granddaughters who I want to have the very brightest futures and the broadest set of life choices and opportunities possible (they’ve already got great genes and terrific talents) - the fact is that, in every company I’ve ever built (or been a big part of), strong, skilled and passionate women have always played major leadership roles and made important contributions to the design, development and success of those businesses.
This didn’t happen because it was in fashion or the right thing to do or even a special thing to do; it happened because it was the smart thing to do and that’s why I say it was selfish. It was the best thing I could do for my business at the time and it’s been a part of my program ever since. I don’t think anyone does anything important all by themselves these days and I don’t think you can build any business that’s ready for the challenges of tomorrow which isn’t aggressively inclusive and diverse.
Nothing this important happens by itself. And no one who has the opportunity to help make changes like this does it without sacrifices of their own. Time, energy, sleep – these are all at a premium today and I can tell you that I wouldn’t have been able to pull off even a fraction of my “accomplishments” without the support, love and exceptional patience of my family and especially of my wife Judy. She really loves our dogs the most, but I’m pretty sure that I’m a strong third or fourth.
And, I’ve also been privileged to be a part of and work with several organizations (including 1871 and the YWCA) which have helped to set great examples for today and for the generations to come. I’ve worked closely with Dorri for many years. I want to end by taking a moment to recognize and thank her for the amazing transformation of the Y which she is leading. I’m always proud to call her my friend. Thank you all again.