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Tory Burch, fashion designer and founder of the Tory Burch Foundation
Tory Burch rises to the top by finding new ways to empower others
In "A Year of Something New", LANDMARK is celebrating designers and changemakers who are working to build a better world. Tory Burch, who recently crafted an exclusive capsule collection for LANDMARK, has made it her mission to empower women every day.
For most entrepreneurs, building an internationally renowned fashion and lifestyle label would constitute the pinnacle of a career. But Tory Burch has a different perspective, and has branched out into a new role – that of a committed philanthropist. “One of the reasons I started a company was to start a foundation, but I knew our business had to be successful first” she explains, continuing, “In 2009, we launched the Tory Burch Foundation to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education and resources. I’m thrilled that we have finally reached a point of real impact and scale.” In fact, such is the Foundation’s impact that, since 2014, it has offered US$35 million in affordable loans to 1,770 women entrepreneurs in association with Bank of America, and enabled over 170 women to graduate from its Goldman Sachs-backed education programme.
But what is Tory Burch’s motivation to dedicate so much of her time to building a better world through female economic empowerment? “For a business to truly thrive it is important to have a diversity of views and voices. In fact, studies have shown that companies that have women in leadership positions outperform those that do not.” She explains, acknowledging that are systematic hurdles to overcome. “There are challenges for women in every industry, but the most glaring are equal opportunity and equal pay. And as long as women earn on average 20% less than men, there is much to be done.”
Another area of inequality that she is passionate about is the cultural stigma around female ambition. The Foundation will tackle this head-on in a brand new initiative, #EmbraceAmbition, coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 8th. Visitors to EmbraceAmbition.org can design and send messages honouring those who have inspired their ambition; by sharing these voices and their stories, Burch hopes that more women than ever will gain the confidence to become tomorrow’s business leaders.
Her own business firmly commits to “walking the talk” on female leadership, with a fresh approach to managing its human resources. “At our company, 80% of the employees are women, and many are in leadership roles.” Burch states, “We want all of our employees to feel supported and valued, regardless of gender.” A significant element of that support is in ensuring a family-friendly workplace. “We work hard to create an environment where people feel that they can have a family life and a fulfilling career.” Burch believes that supportive practices benefits both employees and the businesses that they work for, explaining, “It’s not about clocking people in and out. It’s about the quality of the work. When you make it easier for people to have a great personal life, it breeds creativity and happiness. They do their best work, and they stay with you.”
As a brand, Tory Burch is unashamedly female-focused, with the new S/S 18’s collection drawing inspiration and ideas from legendary English interior designer David Hicks, creating pieces for real women with busy lives. “Having clothes that fit well, are comfortable, and look great without requiring a great deal of thought – that’s essential to functioning really well. Anything that boosts confidence and enhances our ability to focus on the task at hand is empowering,” states Burch, adding that she draws her own inspiration from the burgeoning entrepreneurs that her Foundation supports, “Many of them are working two jobs and raising children — while building a business. Their tenacity and determination are extraordinary.”
And with no less than Tory Burch herself nurturing their career ambitions, the future of business looks decidedly female.
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