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Tory Burch: Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word

Women are the future. I truly believe that.

Women’s empowerment has never been about the optics for us—in fact, we didn’t talk about the work of our Foundation for a long time because we didn’t want it to be perceived as marketing. Six months ago, I sent an email to our team telling them that finally, ten years after launching our Foundation, it was now time to talk externally about everything we are doing.

Women’s empowerment isn’t just a foundational principle for us, it’s something we have been financing for over a decade. To date, Tory Burch LLC has given over $20M to our Foundation. Every Tory Burch product that has been purchased over the past ten years has contributed to that number.

We also provide about $1 million a month in affordable loans for women entrepreneurs through our Capital Program in partnership with Bank of America. To date, we have distributed over $57 million to 3,500 women across the United States—from bakers to civil engineers.

A few years ago, we began to think bigger. On top of correcting the inequity on the back end, we questioned how we could combat the bias that causes inequity in the first place. It got me thinking about an instance in which I realized I had bought into my own unconscious bias.

Early in my career, a friend pointed out to me that I had shied away from the word “ambition.” It was a turning point for me.

The truth is, the word “ambition” takes on a completely different meaning when applied to a woman than when applied to a man. Women are criticized for exhibiting the very same quality men are praised for. This has to change.

Ambition creates pioneers, thinkers, innovators and leaders. We tend to associate ambition with the workplace but it’s about being ambitious in all that you do—whether that’s starting a company, running for office, or being a stay-at-home mom.

We launched our #EmbraceAmbition global initiative in 2017 to encourage women to own their power, their drive and their dreams. This is a message that is relevant to all women, from all around the world. In fact, our video reached 98% of all the world’s countries and has been viewed millions of times.

We have made progress but there is still so much that needs to be done. This is a problem we can solve, but only if we are willing to do the work and to take bold action—together. Men have to be part of this conversation if we want to create real and lasting change. Equality is not a woman’s issue. It’s not a man’s issue. It’s an issue of humanity.

Tory Burch is the executive chairman and chief creative office of Tory Burch LLC, an American lifestyle brand, and founder of the Tory Burch Foundation.

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