Footage of Mitt Romney touting how his "entire life has been one of working with women and helping women through the glass ceiling," was released Thursday by Buzzfeed. Clipped from Romney's 1994 debate with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, the video shows Romney appearing to take credit for the number of women in leadership positions at Bain & Co., a consulting firm that Romney had left a decade earlier, in 1984, to found the private equity firm Bain Capital Partners.
"As chief executive officer of Bain & Co., the highest-paid person at our firm was a woman, and the chairman of the board was a woman," Romney says in the video. "The chief financial officer at my firm, [Bain Capital Partners], is a woman."
Romney briefly returned to Bain & Co. in 1990 to assist with financial difficulties, but returned to Bain Capital in 1992. The first female chairman of Bain & Co., Orit Gadiesh, wasn't appointed until the following year.
The Republican presidential nominee also failed to mention the fact that as of 1994, Bain Capital had yet to invite any women into its lucrative partnership arrangement. The firm would not add any women to that roster until after Romney left in 1999. And at the time, only nine of the 95 vice presidents at the firm were women. None were minorities. Romney offered the Boston Globe the dubious explanation that women and minorities were "not attracted" to jobs in private equity.
In the 1994 debate, Romney went on to illustrate how he had "backed women entrepreneurs," by telling the story of a woman who wanted to start a daycare business. "One woman came to me with the idea of building a chain of child-care centers that would have childcare at the work site. I backed her and helped her build that business."
During Tuesday night's presidential debate with President Obama, Romney used another example of women in the workplace that rubbed many women the wrong way, saying he recognized that "if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible." He went on to tell the story of his chief of staff, who needed to leave work early so she could be home "making dinner" for her kids.
Romney's other interesting point in the debate was that he believed all "public companies and federal agencies" should be forced to report how many women and minorities worked there on a quarterly basis. Romney's firm Bain Capital is privately held, so no such statistics would be published. Asked this week to comment on the firm's minority hiring practices, a spokesman for Bain Capital was, fittingly, mum.
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