Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, urged corporate America in an essay published online Thursday to help develop women’s workplace potential, arguing women are the key to America’s economic prosperity.
The essay, written for the May 20 issue of Fortune Magazine, made the economic -- and ethical -- case for expanding opportunities for women.
It comes just a few months after Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, published her book “Lean In,” which pushes women to be more assertive in their careers and calls for more mentorship of female employees.
Sandberg’s memoir has sparked a national conversation on women’s workplace advancement.
In his essay, Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, recalls his own friendship with the late Katherine Graham, who was chief executive of the Washington Post Co.
“I met Kay in 1973 and quickly saw that she was a person of unusual ability and character,” Buffett wrote. “But the gender-related self-doubt was certainly there too.”
Under Graham, the Washington Post Co. thrived, Buffett said. Since then, the corporate landscape for women has changed, but more can be done, he argued.
Buffett challenged male executives to think about how women can boost productivity.
“So, my fellow males, what’s in this for us?” he asks. "If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn’t you want to include its counterpart?”
The essay was published just days before the company’s annual shareholder meeting and comes two months after Calvert Investments published a report ranking Berkshire Hathaway as one of the least diverse companies in the S&P; 100 Index.