Warren Buffett: I’m looking to invest more in women

The chairman of Berkshire Hathaway wants to find more women board members as well as women CEOs to invest in

 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 15 June 2016 20:22 BST
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The 85-year-old investor thanks his wife and sisters for his inspiration to bring in women board members
The 85-year-old investor thanks his wife and sisters for his inspiration to bring in women board members

One of the most famous investors in the world has said he is looking to invest in more women-run companies and bring more women onto his board.

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, told the audience at the first ever United State of Women summit in Washington DC that he currently invests in six companies with female CEOs and is "looking for more”.

He also has three women on the board of Berkshire Hathaway and wants to up that number too.

“What makes me even more enthusiastic about the future, is that 90% of that time [in the past] we were only using half of our talent. Think about what would happen if we used all the talent for 100% of the time,” he said. “It’s like having one hand behind your back.“

The first woman to join his board in 2003 was Charlotte Guyman. Her name was suggested to him at first by his wife.

“I said ‘bingo’, but I didn’t think of it myself, and that demonstrates one of the problems we men have to get over,” he confided.

Since then, Susan Decker and Meryl Witmer have joined the 12-strong board, which includes Bill Gates and Mr Buffett's son, Howard Graham Buffett.

“Out of the younger crowd of directors - and by that I mean under 60 - three out of five are women are there’ll be more,” he said.

He told the audience that he bought a business in 1983 from 89-year-old Rose Blumkin, an uneducated and illiterate Russian immigrant who could not speak English and who started off selling second-hand clothing and used the money to bring over her family members.

“She bought a small amount of furniture in Omaha and it grew to become the largest home furnishing store [Nebraska Furniture Mart] in the United States, doing over $400 million worth of business,” he said, “She worked till she was 103, she quit and died the next year. So I use that as an example to our other managers that they retire early.”

Mr Buffett said he thought it was “very unfair” that his two sisters were expected to marry and stay at home.

“They scored higher on intelligence tests than me, had better personalities and were far better looking,” he said.

Not only is Mr Buffett investing in women, but also women are investing in him.

The anonymous donor at a charity auction who bid $3.5 million this month to have a private lunch with the investment mogul was a woman, said Mr Buffett.

She now co-holds the record for the largest amount ever donated to charity to spend time with him.

The last woman who won a bid to have a lunch with him was “a few years ago, from Canada“, he said, and spent around $2 million.

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