Sunday, November 01, 2015

Buffett Vs. Trump On Women

Warren Buffett and Donald Trump are both undeniably rich. That is where they part company. Their temperaments are very much opposites. Buffett is reclusive and unassuming where Trump is vain and bombastic. Consider how their opinions of women in the workplace reflect their public personalities.

Mr. Buffett endorsed female empowerment in his legendary 2013 Fortune essay. Maximizing prosperity means getting the most from all of your people. Mr. Buffett sees vast potential in one half of the population that history has mostly ignored. Mr. Trump's remarks about women during this election season confine them to second-class status. His ridicule of journalist Megyn Kelly for capably performing her job tells women that their potential won't matter if they irritate powerful men with the truth. One business leader broadcasts an encouraging message while the other enjoys smacking competent people down. Feel free to decide which one you would prefer as your boss.

Consider how the two men treat women in their personal lives. Warren Buffett remained married to one woman for half a century, and even though they were separated for some time she approved of his longtime companion. The trio were comfortable with an enduring, lifelong partnership that most Americans would find unconventional. Donald Trump has been married three times, each time to a younger woman, yet some "conservatives" still think he's a role model. Uncle Warren's women are his partners and confidants. The Donald's women are his trophies and possessions. Feel free to decide which one would be a more reliable husband.

Hollywood icons offer useful ways to think of America's favorite business leaders. The Art of Manliness describes Jimmy Stewart as dignified, dutiful, and humble. Warren Buffet's folksiness recalls Mr. Stewart's graces. American author William Manchester wrote in 1987 about how real combat veterans of World War II humiliated John Wayne for his phony bravado. Brash, bold images that don't square with reality are an apt description of Donald Trump's reality TV franchise.

Business titans know a lot about success. They don't know everything, and some deserve more attention when their inner qualities are on display. Donald Trump's net worth is somewhere between $4B (according to Forbes) and $9B (according to his own big mouth). Warren Buffet's net worth was over $64B in 2014, according to SEC-compliant financial statements that everyone can read. The billionaire who sees enormous value in women is worth several times more than the one who sees them as mere playthings. Results matter in business. The more capable of these two investors knows the value of human life. Feel free to decide which one you would rather be. I'd work for Warren Buffett any day if it meant I could think like him.