Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Meghan Talks "Standing Up for What's Right", the Dignity of Work & "Feeling Happier" in New York

Hello, hello! This afternoon, the Duchess of Sussex joined the New York Times DealBook summit to participate in 'Minding the Gap' -- a conversation focused on how women can reach professional and economic parity. The most surprising element? Meghan is in New York in person, though it had been thought she would attend virtually. We know Harry has engagements in the Big Apple beginning tomorrow, so it makes sense they travelled together.

The Duchess was photographed by NYC based photographer Calla Kessler for the New York Times.

The entire conversation is available below.

The Duchess sat down with DealBook Editor-at-Large Andrew Ross Sorkin. The first topic on the agenda focused on Meghan's involvement in the fight for paid leave. Meghan told Andrew, "My husband has always said with great privilege comes great responsibility. Even before I had any sort of privilege in my life -- when my life and my lifestyle were very, very different -- I always just stood up for what's right." Meghan added: "I've been gone from the US for a long time. I lived in Canada for seven years for work, then moved to the UK, so to come back and now be a mother of two, and to see the US is one of only six countries in the entire world that doesn't offer national paid leave just didn't make sense." When asked if she has any anxiety about getting involved in politics, the Duchess replied: "I don't see this as a political issue frankly. There is certainly a precedent in my husband's family and the Royal family of not having any involvement in politics, but I think paid leave, from my standpoint, is just a humanitarian issue."

Meghan was in conversation with Mellody Hobson, Co-C.E.O. and President, Ariel Investments and the Chairwoman of Starbucks. Mellody's formidable career has seen her tackle roles as the chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation, a board member at Estée Lauder, and in 2017 she made history as the first African-American woman to head the Economic Club of Chicago. Last year Forbes placed Hobson No.94 on their list of the World's Most Powerful Women. Mellody has credited her tireless work ethic in her success. "The one thing I knew I could do is outwork everyone," she told Vanity Fair in 2015. Like Meghan, Mellody is a wife and a mum. In 2013 she married George Lucas (yes, Indiana Jones & Star Wars fans, that George Lucas :)) and that same year they welcomed a daughter -- Everest Hobson Lucas.

Below, an engaging and powerful 2014 TED Talk Mellody gave about diversity in hiring and the important of speaking openly about race.

The New York Times DealBood described the conversation as "two groundbreaking figures" joining the conversation to "discuss top-down solutions, and reflect on how their shared experiences influenced their thinking about creating opportunities for others".

We learned Meghan and Mellody have known each other for some time. The Duchess said mutual friends suggested getting to know Mellody "as a mentor". The Duchess credited the input of someone "with seasoned experience". Mellody said she enjoys their "great relationship", adding "it's been fun to get to know you".

Meghan and Mellody touched on the negative connotations associated with the word "ambitious" for women. Meghan said it's "a positive thing culturally" for boys and men, adding, "It's really troubling." Mellody touched on the meaning of the word: "The earnest pursuit of achievement. Earnest is serious. Why is that wrong?" Andrew turned to Meghan and asked for her thoughts, saying, "You walk in here and it's like you're bigger than life just walking in. The whole place lit up." Meghan laughed and replied, "We don't get out that much, so I don't personally feel that way. I still see myself as the same I've always been. I've always been a hard worker. The people that know me well -- and some of them are here today -- I've just always been the same."

On the negative impact of social media on women, Meghan said "the entire environment on social media" and "clickbait culture" is a "race to the bottom". "It's about creating the news rather than delivering the news. The damaging impact on women is impossible to quantify." She shared her belief we need to "incentivise true" news, and the platforms bear responsibility.

Meghan discussed the dignity of work and said she grew up watching her parents strong work ethic. People reports:

"I remember when I was really young — I must have been 8 or 9 — I started making scrunchies to sell," she said in the conversation, which covered women's efforts to achieve economic and professional parity. "I had my mom take me downtown to get scraps of fabric from the fabric stores, and sell them like five for five bucks, who knows."

She continued, "I remember the feeling of knowing that I had done something, I had invested in myself and done this labor and been compensated for it. There's a sense of pride that comes from that."

Speaking about how women still make less than men, Meghan said that she was taught financial literacy from a young age and noted that it's still "ingrained" in her.

"Do they have coupons anymore? I don't know — but I will never buy anything online without finding an online promo code first," she said. "That's still in there. It's a modern version of the same thing."

Mellody added she was shocked to learn three quarters of the people who work from home are men. "In fact, more than half of men with flexible work schedules thought it helped their careers. If we know the fact, we can dispel myths and see opportunity is actually for everyone. It's not targeted to one gender."


On the use of Zoom in business and if it will continue, Meghan said "she hopes the hybrid continues to work" but "nothing beats connection face to face".

The two-day summit celebrates the 20th anniversary of DealBook. Andrew Ross Sorkin brought together "some of the most influential minds in business, policy and culture to take stock of a world in the midst of rapid reinvention, grappling with the ripples of Covid and rewriting the rules in real time". Other speakers include US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken; General Motors CEO Mary Barra; Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla; Apple CEO Tim Cook; Rappler CEO Maria Ressa; Actor Matthew McConnaughey; and Armchair Expert podcast hosts Dax Shepard and Monica Padman (you'll remember Prince Harry sat down with the duo back in May).

On building Archewell Meghan said, "We try to lead by example. We're a small company, but we have the policies we would like." Citing 20 weeks of paid leave and a diverse team, she said "it adds to the richness of the company" in everything they do. Asked about being a boss and tabloid reports, the Duchess said: "Firstly, I would urge you not to read tabloids because I don’t think that’s healthy for anyone. Hopefully one day they come with a warning label like cigarettes do, like 'This is toxic for your mental health'. My husband and I have started to build this together on our own, just doing it the same way we would want if we were employees. Treat people as you would like to be treated."

On the Mail on Sunday's appeal, which began today, Meghan said: 

"It's about standing up for what's right. At a certain point, no matter how difficult it is, you have to do what's right."

Asked how she's feeling about everything after the past several years, the Duchess smiled: "I am feeling much better about everything, thank you."


Of course this trip to New York for Prince Harry is very much about celebrating the military community. Ahead of Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in the UK, Meghan donned a red poppy.


The Duchess teamed a fitted black short sleeve top and trousers with Ferragamo's Adjustable Gancini Belt (a great spot by the lovely Susan C at What Meghan Wore). Described as: "Decorated with an antique gold finish Gancini buckle. The special workmanship of the Gancini is twisted for an exciting finish, with the added mini studs for a contemporary take."


The Duchess accessorised with the late Princess Diana's gold and diamond butterfly earrings.


They are from Diana's private collection and it's understood Harry gifted them to Meghan around the time of their wedding. Meghan wore them several times on their 2018 Oceania tour.


Meghan accessorised with Diana's Cartier Tank watch.
And her trusty Cartier Love bracelet.


Meghan chose a 14kt Gold Diamond Eye of Protection Bracelet by Mateo New York. 

The Huffington Post reports:

'In an interview with Harris by phone on Tuesday, the designer said that he had “no clue” that Meghan was going to wear the bracelet and found out after someone tagged him on Instagram and his publicist sent him screenshots.

“I almost had a meltdown,” Harris said, adding that the duchess was on his “dream list” of people to wear the brand. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m gonna have a panic attack today.’

It looks as though the Duchess also wore her Jennifer Meyer tennis bracelet. I'll add fashion updates if they become available.

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In our last post, we chatted about Meghan's impassioned open letter in support of paid leave. I mentioned how surprised I was to learn it's quite the political hot potato in the States rather than a right. I was equally shocked to read the US is one of only six countries with no national paid leave. The Washington Post shared a fascinating piece on the idea of paid leave -- one born a century ago -- a right Americans still don't have.

'The women came to Washington from across the globe — from France to Japan, Argentina to India — to demand better working conditions.

They addressed equal pay, breastfeeding breaks, paid parental leave, and one delegate even proposed that housework should be counted as part of a standard, eight-hour workday.

“Women are the builders of the race,” Margaret Dreier Robins said to about 200 women during the first session of the International Congress of Working Women.

“To us is entrusted the protection of life,” Robins said. "The social and industrial order must meet this challenge. There can be no compromise with the exploitation of women"

In addition to Meghan's letter, she has been calling senators on both sides of the aisle. 19th News reports:

'Meghan recently called Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who in 2013 proposed her own paid leave bill, and expressed her desire to help.

When Gillibrand and the duchess spoke, the senator offered to give her the numbers of her Republican colleagues, including Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine and others. They received direct calls from Meghan. 

“I could hear how sincere she was about advocacy,” Gillibrand told The 19th.'

Gillibrand shared plans with 19th news to invite Meghan to Washington DC for a bipartisan dinner in the coming weeks for all women senators across the US (a tradition restarted by Vice President Kamala Harris).

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Additionally the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to pen an open letter asking Where are the doses?

'When the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations met at the G7 Summit in June, they collectively announced that 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be sent to low- and low-and-middle-income countries to help vaccinate the world. Pharmaceutical companies have pledged almost the same.

Yet, as several nations still don’t even have enough vaccines for their own health workers, the world is left asking: Where are the doses?

Of the almost 7 billion doses that have been administered globally, just 3 percent of people in low-income countries have had a jab so far. Where are the rest?

COVAX, the initiative designed to help achieve fair global access to COVID vaccines, has been promised 1.3 billion doses to be donated for the low-income countries it supports, yet it has been able to ship only 150 million - 11.5 percent – to date. Where are the rest?

Promises aren’t translating into vaccines reaching the people that need them.'

The letter was supported by experts and advocates in global health policy, including: Inger Ashing, CEO, Save the Children International; Dr Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS; Chelsea Clinton, DPhil, MPH, Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation; Hugh Evans, Co-founder and CEO, Global Citizen; Tom Hart, Acting CEO, The ONE Campaign; Carolyn Reynolds, Co-founder, Pandemic Action Network; and Anil Soni, CEO, WHO Foundation. Harry and Meghan had a meeting at the World Health Organisation in September with several of the figures mentioned above.


 Coinciding with COP26, Archewell has pledged to become net zero by 2030.

'We are a young company, but today, Archewell joins our co-founders in committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Achieving net zero carbon emissions means making a series of choices over time to make that footprint as small as possible, while compensating for any remaining emissions through high-quality carbon removal projects. 

As an organization, we will work with an independent consultant to track all Archewell-related activities from our inception (internet use, commutes, and electricity in home offices, for example) to understand our collective footprint.  Using 2022 as our baseline year, they will develop a plan for Archewell that aligns with the latest guidance from leading organizations, like the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), while offsetting remaining emissions until we achieve net zero in 2030 and beyond.

As we begin this endeavor, we will leverage the expertise of the non-profit organization Travalyst, founded by The Duke, and the sustainable investing platform Ethic, to focus our investments in support of a low-carbon economy.'

As mentioned earlier, tomorrow Prince Harry will present the inaugural Intrepid Valor Awards to five service members, veterans and military families at the Intrepid Museum's 2021 Salute to Freedom gala. It comes days ahead of Remembrance Sunday and is rumoured to be one of several engagements the Prince will undertake in support of the military community. There's no official word on the Duchess' attendance or plans yet. Watch this space...

20 comments:

  1. As usual, we get so much more in your posts, Charlotte. I never knew about Mellody (and married to George Lucas!) and love her association/friendship/mentorship with Meghan. There are SO many things that are not political but have been made so, and I won't get into that but paid leave affects everyone. Meghan looks wonderful; she seems extremely happy.

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  2. I watched this online this morning - having registered for it last week (I saw it advertised in one of my social feeds, live in Silicon Valley and plan corporate events for a living and therefore listen to quite a few when I can). Fist, kudos Charlotte, you captured the essence of the interview very well (that is a skill I don't have and many don't for that matter). Secondly, I took away a few things slightly differently than you Charlotte. I'm a Mellody Hobson fan and wanted to get her to speak at a women's conference I worked on (Mellody is bi-coastal but yes, in the Bay Area part of the time). When I heard and 'saw' that there was a relationship between Mellody and Meghan my first thought was that Melody must be an advisor to Archewell. It didn't just happen Andrew Ross Sorkin, Editor-at-Large at DealBook, put those two together in a panel. My guess is that the Archewell PR team (and they are good!) pitched the concept of them speaking. And now that letter about family makes sense because it was tied in her. And BTW, I'm really thinking family leave - 12 weeks - would be good for the US and I'd happily vote for that if we could adjust/amend our tax policies and credits overall (but let's not go down that path in this comment :-)

    I struggled a little with her comments about "coupons", making scrunchies, etc. I baked cookies and sold them door to door, I too clip coupons, etc. But not sure I could wear a $12K dress if I was married to say "Jeff Bezos'. I also would never want to be associated with that much money - with it comes great responsibility (I would rather have friends than never know who my real friends are).

    I also wasn't 100% sure it was live this morning - again, everyone works to "pre-record" if they can mainly because your editor is key to your success. I haven't watched all of the sessions and they are available online everyone - so google it, register, and watch if you want. I missed Tim Cook but thought Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was very good (we have such a problem with 'anti-vaxers" in the US). If you've never heard General Motors CEO Mary Barra; speak she doesn't disappoint (I'll listen later this weekend) and I was most interested in hearing WeWork Co-Founder Adam Neumann (given the story behind WeWork - he did a great job and the conversation went well beyond his 30 minutes.

    Alright, I didn't mean to go on this long with my post but again, Charlotte captured it beautifully and I felt the sessions (again, I thought the production and content was good) were valuable. Plus it was nice to hear Meghan's voice, she's a great speaker :-)

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  3. I absolutely agree with Meghan- this is not a political issue. But from the outside it seems the US classifies lots of topics as political issues that everyone else deems socially important across all party lines (jut the preferred actions differ). She looks great and I completely forgot how telegen she is.
    What I miss in the article is the whole picture of voices fom the people she called. Not everyone was happy that she obtsined their private number without their knowledge.
    @Charlotte: will you report on the ANL appeal? While I don't think the judgement will change in generally it seems the opposite site utilises the appeal to put some stuff out there that at least puts in question her original claims regarding her father (not talking about all the stuff that went down afterwards- her cutting off her family was completely justified in my opinion- kust talking about the intitial narrative and the quotes from her regarding this incident).
    C.
    C.

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    1. C, my take is that Meghan felt she HAD to respond to her father for the sake of Harry and the RF. I think she hoped and halfway expected that her letter (and she had good reasons for choosing a letter) would be private. What I find interesting is that all the RF is so protected except that this aide is allowed to first investigate her for bullying and now come forth with emails that should be private.

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    2. Well, if those mails are requested he had to hand them in. Nothing private about it, it’s business and hardly state secrets. How they knew what to ask for though….
      The most shocking thing about the bullying investigation is that it didn’t happen straight away but that it was swept under the rug. Because it gives the idea this happens a lot in this environment when it shouldn’t happen at all.
      In the end ANL has legally the weaker position. But I think they know, but use the attention to their advantage. Bad luck for Meghan that she is not perfect and made her fair share of mistakes that now come back to haunt her.
      C.

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  4. What a Very educative/informative section..... It will be crime against humanity if Meghan is less of her original being

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  5. I am unsure what exactly they mean by getting Archwell net zero in eight years. I do understand what net zero means, but they haven't mentioned any actions they are taking. The first action is always reducing what you generate and than counteraction to what cannot be avoided. Frankly, from what I have read about Archwell, I do not understand why it should take them eight years. And publicising such an endavour without mentioning specific actions is kind of avoiding to be held responsible. Through my line of work I do have some insight into the topic and while it is a good idea I have some serious question marks.

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  6. The Eye of Protection bracelet comes with an "M," so very appropriate for Meghan. :)

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  7. As someone from the US I was really interested reading this. As a woman I would love to see some sort of paid maternal leave. I haven’t had children yet but am lucky to have some program at work (though it is not fully paid).

    This might seem too political (so forgive me and I understand if it doesn’t get posted)- I just don’t know how I feel about Meghan, a member of the royal family, using her title to influence American politicals. The US fought a war many years ago agains the UK and the monarchy. It just seems wrong for her to be using her British title in this political arena. But kudos to her for bringing awareness about this issue.


    E from US

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    1. Hi E - the most common argument is I've seen is "she's an American citizen, and it's her title so she can use it" but I also feel like dropping it would be more powerful - to show that she doesn't need it makes more of an impact, imo. But perhaps she's still using the title because it gets more press on the things she's trying to highlight? -op

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    2. She said the royal family has an history of being apolitical, but she doesn't think paid leave is political. She missed an opportunity here. She could easily have added, I am not doing this as a member of the RF, but as an US citizen. Or something like although we still are family, I do not represent the RF, this is my personal opinion. While I agree the issue isn't political, many people don't ( the question of who pays for it if it is approved is divisive.) Also stating clearly she is not bound by the RF rules because she isn't a working royal anymore would make her free to be as political as she wishes in the future.

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    3. My feeling is that she suffered enough to have that title, and continues, so if she thinks people will talk to the DoS but not to someone who says she is "Meghan," more power to her. Anyone who knows her knows she is a US citizen and knows she is not speaking for the UK and/RF.

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    4. American citizens are free to contact their representatives and petition the government. Contacting elected officials from other states on private numbers is close to lobbying. The definition of political is approaching the government for a specific outcome. She is being show-biz political for sure.

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  8. Thank you for your wonderful coverage, Charlotte. It's great to see and hear Meghan looking and sounding like the uninhibited person she was before her days as a senior royal.

    R

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  9. Thank you Charlotte for this post! Very interesting and so many important subjects. Especially women getting more educated about money. I experience this very often - women and especially middle class and upper middle class women still tend to give the financial responsibilities to their husbands. It is so important that men engage more in education and women into finance. In Germany our secretary who established parental leave was hammered for it. But now it is a very successful and well accepted part of our work life. One partner has the option to get a 12 month leave and the other Partner two months. The two months are fully paid. The longer period is paid by the state and covers a certain percentage of the mothers income. It was a huge outcry especially in the male sector, but now the young dads are eager to have their time with the family.

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  10. Lovely photo of Mellody by Fran Leibowitz for Pirelli calendar https://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2015/11/30/fashion/the-new-look-of-the-2016-pirelli-calendar/s/20151130UNBUTTONEDPIRELLI-slide-C27H.html

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  11. Excellent post! I think Meghan's right re: humanitarian issue of maternity & paternity leave - if we (the US) care so much about children, making leave and family time a priority is an obvious next step. And one way behind the curve, honestly.
    I agree with some other comments here about the nebulous nature of Archwell. Hopefully that will become clearer as they grow.
    -op

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  12. Very interesting conversation. As always I loved hearing little stories on the Duchess' pre-entertaintment as well as pre-royal life, it's always so relatable to me. And I remember watching Ms Hobson's TED Talk years ago and learning about her, she's certainly an impressive woman. Thanks Dealbook for bringing us this lovely talk.

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  13. great post Charlotte and she looks lovely

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  14. Here we go again .. the victim is being victimised. Correct me if I am wrong . What the Daily Mail and Jason Knauf, her former trusted adviser, are saying in court is that the victim, Meghan has forfeited her right to privacy because she anticipated that her letter to her father could be leaked.

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)