Bloomberg Anywhere Remote Login Bloomberg Terminal Request a Demo

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Buffett’s ‘Mr. Rational’ Approach Seen Aiding Female Advancement

Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., leaves after firing the starting gun during the
Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., leaves after firing the starting gun during the "Berkshire Hathaway Invest In Yourself 5K" race presented by Brooks Sports, Inc., a Berkshire company, in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 5, 2013. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s analytical approach, which he’s applied to picking stocks and buying businesses, also benefits female leaders at his Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said one of the top-ranking women executives at the company.

“He’s said, ‘Well, why would anyone want to exclude 50 percent of the population,’” Cathy Baron Tamraz, chief executive officer of Berkshire’s Business Wire unit, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu that aired today. “I mean, Mr. Rational, right? He just makes so much sense.”

Buffett, 82, highlighted the need to draw on women for leadership roles at events surrounding Berkshire’s May 4 annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, where the company is based. The billionaire chairman and CEO of Berkshire discussed women in top roles at an event at the University of Nebraska Omaha and wrote an essay titled “Warren Buffett is bullish... on women” on Fortune magazine’s website.

“For most of our history, women, whatever their abilities, have been relegated to the sidelines,” Buffett wrote. “Only in recent years have we begun to correct that.”

Berkshire was among the lowest-rated companies in the Standard & Poor’s 100 Index on diversity, according to a March report by Calvert Investments Inc. Buffett has said he doesn’t dictate policies to executives of Berkshire’s managed companies on topics such as diversity and flexible work hours.

Slow Change

“Change comes slowly,” Tamraz said. “He didn’t buy these other businesses because there were men running them. He bought these certain businesses, and that’s who’s in charge, and he always is looking for the best person for the job.”

At the May 4 meeting, Berkshire added Meryl Witmer, a general partner at Eagle Capital, to the board of directors. She’s the third woman on the 13-person panel.

“If it was a toss-up, I wanted to give it to a woman,” Buffett said at the university of adding a female director. “I like the idea of women of talent becoming recognized.”

Women held just 16.6 percent of board seats and 14.3 percent of executive-officer posts at Fortune 500 companies in 2012, according to a report from Catalyst, a nonprofit group that seeks to expand opportunities for women. Of the more than 70 heads of Berkshire’s business units, five are women.

Mary Rhinehart, who was named CEO of Berkshire’s Johns Manville building-products unit in November, told Liu that two of the first calls of congratulations she received were from Tamraz and Susan Jacques, who heads the Borsheims jewelry retailer for Berkshire. She also praised Buffett.

“Warren is very progressive,” Rhinehart said. “He’s going to select the best individual for the job.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Zachary Tracer in New York at ztracer1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.