I've just returned from a week in New York City, and the afterglow of Fashion Week combined with the feeling that fall is in the air makes the Big Apple come alive, more so than ever. Nostalgic feelings aside, I was there for serious business: participating in WIE and CGI. I also spent time with the fantastic entrepreneur, Claudia Chan (profiled in our Guest Blog section), and major editors who wanted to know more about our joinFITE.org initiative. Still, NYC makes me feel giddy!
WIE, the brainchild of Donna Karan, Sarah Brown & Arianna Huffington, stands for "Women, Inspiration, & Enterprise." This electrifying organization brings together minds from philanthropy, business, fashion, Hollywood and more to highlight and discuss important issues facing today's world. Naturally I was honored to be invited to participate in the: "Philanthropy, Social Enterprise & Corporate Responsibility -- The Business of Doing Good" panel.
The driving message behind this panel, and throughout the city of New York last week, was that financial success, human consciousness and social responsibility are all just facets of the same gem. One enhances the other. Looking at the world picture, professional and corporate success must embrace global activism and advocacy for women.
The sweep of this work is breathtaking. On one hand, it's irreverent. On the other, it's heart-stoppingly poignant. I base this reflection on two of my experiences as part of WIE. The first was a compelling chat with film producer Shauna Robertson -- you've seen her credits on big commercial successes in the Judd Apatow lineup, including Superbad, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up. She's also an activist. She and her fiancé, actor Ed Norton, devote themselves to good work via crowdrise.com -- so, it's not all about the big yuks and big bucks, it's about philanthropy, community, social networking and the common goal of giving back.
The other highlight was when the day shifted its focus to the White Ribbon Alliance, where the combined brilliance and magnetic drive of Arianna Huffington can be felt as the driving force. This initiative sheds light on the fact that over 1,000 girls and women (I say "girls," because they are often as young as 12, some younger...) die each day around the world as the result of pregnancy, or childbirth. The White Ribbon Alliance is dedicated to directing resources, including $40 million recently funded by the United Nations, to ensure safe motherhood, and that pregnancy and childbirth is safe for all women and children around the world.
CGI is, of course, the "Clinton Global Initiative," the forum where I presented our concept for joinFITE.org last year. President Clinton, himself, asked me to report back with our progress! So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do so.
One of the cornerstones of this year's CGI was: "Investing in Girls and Women at Home and Abroad." Of course, this is the subject most dear to my heart. Since we started our business more than 25 years ago, giving working women the tools they need to succeed in business has been my laser-focus. With all eyes on the advancement of females around the world, I was thrilled to update my fellow CGI members on our work over the past year and renew Dermalogica's commitment to empower.
My update was timed -- they call it the "Two Minute Pitch." In those two minutes (yes, they're very strict!), I let everyone know that joinFITE.org has funded more than 5,000 women, and that we are now developing new partnerships to put mobile phones into the hands of our microloan recipients. The ability to connect and communicate is the single, most essential tool needed by compromised women everywhere. Yes, they need rice. Yes, they need shoes. But the cell-phone is like the fishing-rod in the old parable about how if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, and if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Well, I say, give a woman entrepreneur a cell-phone, even if she doesn't have shoes on her feet, and she can rule the world.
I love NYC, always have. And now that my daughter is planning to go here for college, I love it even more. Proof of the power of an idea whose time has come: after an exhilarating four days of back-to-back meetings, I'm fired up and can't wait to get back to work at home in Los Angeles. There is so much more to do.