Burch opened the event talking about her path to success. "I was walking into rooms of all-male investors and making the case for why they should invest in my idea. I was falling asleep at 3 A.M. every night, talking to all parts of the world. Of course I was ambitious. But instead of saying that, I avoided the question and the word altogether," she recalls. "When an article appeared [about me], a friend called and said, 'Great interview. Though, why are you not owning your ambition?' And she was right."
With #EmbraceAmbition, Burch hopes to decouple ambition and negativity. "I am so tired of women limiting themselves and their ambition because they're afraid of what somebody else might think," she said. She then polled the room. "How many of you have been in a business meeting and remained silent rather than saying an answer that you knew was right? How many of you have downplayed your achievements to luck? And said you didn't deserve a compliment? How many of you have modified a sentence with 'just' or 'sorry' even when you have nothing to apologise for?"
Although the Tory Burch Foundation, which was founded in 2009, has provided access to capital, education, and resources to empower women entrepreneurs, the designer felt that finances weren't the entire story. Women are held back for other, more entrenched and slippery reasons, too. "We want to shine a light on the sometimes hidden biases and barriers that all women face," she said. "And we want to make sure that the conversation has a place in it for everyone. Men, this means you too. " (A handful of men, including Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and house majority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) were invited to speak at the event.)
You can watch a livestream of the entire Embrace Ambition Summit here.
This story first appeared on ELLE.com.
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