The Duchess of Sussex appeared for a 30-minute panel today to discuss her efforts to enforce paid family leave in America at New York Times Dealbook Online Summit in New York City.
The event’s agenda said: “Two groundbreaking figures join us to discuss top-down solutions, and reflect on how their shared experiences influenced their thinking about creating opportunities for others.”
Meghan was interviewed by DealBook and the Times’ financial newsletter editor Andrew Sorkin, and appeared alongside Mellody Hobson, co-C.E.O. and President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based investment firm, who she said she had become friends with.
Meghan’s appearance followed a letter to US Congress, asking them to consider making paid family leave law for all Americans three weeks ago. She addressed her letter, which was published on Paid Leave for All, to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that:
“I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen, and a parent. And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid leave.”
You can read the full letter below
Andrew asked Meghan about the letter and her campaign for paid family leave. She acknowledged that the royal family traditionally stays politically neutral but said that she saw paid leave as a “humanitarian issue” rather than a political one. She said: “I think this is one of those issues that is not red or blue. We can all agree that people need support certainly when they’ve just had a child. Paid leave, from my standpoint, is just a humanitarian issue.”
The duchess also described how coming back to America as a mother of two, after living in both Canada and later in the U.K, made her realize that there was something wrong here.
“You mention privilege. My husband always says of his great privilege, comes great responsibility.
But even before I had that, when my life and lifestyle were very different, I always stood up for what was right. I have been gone from the U.S. for a really long time, I lived in Canada for seven years for work, and then moved to the U.K., and to come back and be a mother of two and to see that the U.S. is one of only six countries in the entire world that does not offer any form of national paid leave just did not make sense. My approach was the same as it has been since I was young.”
Meghan also spoke about women’s opportunities at work at the event alongside Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, and the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation.
At one point she turned her attention to social media, suggesting that the current setup encouraged negative debate. She highlighted the fact that Instagram has a like button and the ability to comment, but not a ‘dislike’ option.
In that way, people either express their approval by hitting ‘like’, or explain their negative feelings in the comments. According to Meghan, a ‘dislike’ button would lead to less negative, angry comments.
She said: “One of the things that seems like such an easy solve from my lens, if you look at Instagram for example, there’s a like button and then there are comments. So if you disagree with something you have to comment on it in a really vitriolic way. If there was a dislike button wouldn’t that hugely shift what you were putting out there, because you could just like it or just dislike it.
Now you have to like it or say something negative. It is just adding to this really unfortunate cycle that I think is having an unfortunate effect on women across the world.”
Meghan went on relating the issue of women’s rights in the workplace to her own experience as a child. She brought up her own experience attempting to save and make money when she was younger and how that has taught her lessons that remain with her today, despite her privileged wealth.
Meghan admitted that she was “an avid couponer” when she was young, and Andrew asked her whether she keeps up the practice today.
“Do they have coupons anymore, I don’t know. I will never buy something online without finding an online promo code first,” she said arguing that values learned as a child can stay with a person for life.
Mellody describes how shocked she was when she found out that 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.”
Meghan also revealed that Mellody and she have known each other for a while describing how mutual friends introduced her to Mellody “as a mentor”. Mellody added she enjoys their “great relationship” and that “it’s been fun to get to know you”.
The two days summit will be “celebrating the 20th anniversary of DealBook. We’re bringing together some of the most influential minds in business, policy, and culture to take stock of a world in the midst of a rapid reinvention, grappling with the ripples of Covid and rewriting the rules in real-time.”
Meghan also discussed her and Harry’s Archewell Foundation saying:
“We just try to lead by example, we’re a small company, but we have the policies that we would like. So if I was an employee at our company, we have 20 weeks of paid leave because if it’s not being provided by the government at this point, hopefully, that will change, we want to be a company that provides that for your employees.”
Andrew also asked Meghan if she is “feeling just better about everything?”
The Duchess replied: “Yes, I am feeling much better about everything, thank you.”
You can watch the whole discussion here
In addition, Meghan was also photographed by NYC based photographer Calla Kessler for the New York Times
Not much about Meghan’s outfit has been discovered yet but what we know so far is:
She teamed up her black oufit with the Ferragamo’s Adjustable Gancini Belt
She wore her gold and diamond butterfly earrings that once belonged to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana
Alongside Princess Diana’s Cartier Tank watch
And her beloved Cartier Love bracelet
She also was also seen wearing the Gold Diamond Eye of Protection Bracelet by Mateo New York.
Last, but not least, ahead of Remembrance Day in the UK and Veterans Day in the US Meghan wore a red poppy. Poppies are worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces community.
On another note, Harry joined a guest on a panel at Wired’s Re:Wired Conference this afternoon. Organized by Wired magazine as part of its REWIRED 2021 summit, this panel discussed misinformation and the real cost it has on individuals, communities, and societies.
Harry’s presence on the panel was due to his role at the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder. He was joined by Renée DiResta, technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, and Rashad Robinson, co-chair of the Aspen Commission on Information Disorder and president at Color Of Change.
During the conversation he linked the misinformation and hatred on social media with the British press’s treatment of his mother and Meghan, accusing them of running a “digital dictatorship” and lambasting “pirates with press cards who have hijacked the most powerful industry in the world”.
He said: “I learned from a very early age that the incentives of publishing are not necessarily aligned with the incentives of truth… I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness, and I’m determined not to lose the mother of my children to the same thing, this self-manufactured rabidness.
Harry will be the special guest at the Intrepid Museum’s Salute to Freedom Gala and will be handing out the medals for the Intrepid Valor Awards to five service members, veterans, and military families who are living with the “invisible wounds of war.”. I think we can expect Meghan to be there as well.
See you tomorrow