The Other Half : Conversations With Men on Gender Equality
By Chiara Condi
Gender Equality is an equation. We need the other half of humanity to hear us and listen if the world is to change in our favor. Here are the influential men of our world (CEOs, athletes, actors, etc) who are making a difference in their everyday lives at home and in the workplace, role models and change agents, for a more equal world we can all be proud of.
Today we talk ethics, luxury and gender equality with Manuel Mallen, the founder of Courbet an ethical jewelry company named after the 19th century artist who wanted to dismantle the iconic column of Place Vendome and whose painting, the Origin of the World, is still considered pornography by modern search engines. After a career in luxury watch making Manuel decided to disrupt the jewelry business by founding an ethical jewelry company (he co founded with a woman, Marianne) in Place Vendome, the epicenter of the jewelry world, because “knowing the rules makes you a better revolutionary for disrupting the system.’ Manuel tells us that 15 out of 18 of his employees are women because it is important to consider the needs of his customers, and that having a female cofounder adds balance, background and perspective to important decision making within the company. We talk about how women have transformed the jewelry business, from becoming more involved in their engagement rings, to directly purchasing products instead of being gifted them, to embracing new technology and values. Manuel tells us how his daughters have sparked his evolution and alignment with his own values, which is why he asks himself “what kind of world do I want to leave for my children?” before every decision he makes. Now what if we all did just that?
Farhoud Meybodi is an award winning producer and director in LA. In this episode, Farhoud tells us about the elements of his values that one would call feminists. He tells us how he has always been sensitive to the subject of diversity, growing up in Los Angeles with parents who had immigrated from Iran while being educated in a Catholic school. Experiences that have impacted him and made him interested in equality and how people can heal around these issues through collaborative conversations that integrate men. He tells us about his hard-working mother who showed him that women could do anything by achieving her own success and dreams (as well as teaching him respect for ancestors). Farhoud then tells us how it was the obvious choice for him to delve into the world of media by founding Wayfarer Entertainment, to use storytelling as a way of changing hearts and minds. We are lucky that one of the positive impact projects the company undertook was Man Enough, a series that interviews well known male figures about equality subjects, such as the MeToo movement. Although no studio wanted to take up Man Enough, forcing Wayfarer to self finance the project and diffuse it through YouTube, the series has been viewed more than 20 million times.
Han-Son Lee, the founder of DaddiLife, an online media that champions what’s possible for the modern day dad (while there are 4.2 million mom blogs in the world, there are only 1,000 dad ones). He is a frequent contributor on topics related to fatherhood and his work has been featured on the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times. Han-Son talks about how having a son has made him cry a lot more, but also inspired him to create a world where children can aspire to achieve everything they want. We talk about millennial dads who want to be more involved, but also the need to create more spaces and workplaces that allow men to do so, and why we should be more tolerant at work and more inclusive on the playground. Han Son tells us about his inspiring mother (who was also a father) to him, a superwoman who taught him the importance of treating everybody equally. He also tells us about how important it was to be involved in his son’s life from day one, and the awareness that being a divorced parent brought to him about doing things equally. His advice to fathers: know what you want out of fatherhood. Now we believe him when he says he is 110% feminist !
Yann Borgstedt is a successful entrepreneur whose success started with the sale of his first company, Net Architects, in 1996. Yann decided in 2005 to start his foundation, Womanity, that focuses on women’s education, training, and development in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, the West Bank, Israel, and Morocco. Having always been sensitive to injustice, Yann felt frustrated that half of the world’s population did not have the same rights and opportunities to realize its potential. Taking an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy, the Womanity Foundation does things differently. Whether it is opening a radio station in the Middle East or teaching girls how to code in Afghanistan, it does things innovatively, taking risks that others would not take, building and then scaling upon its successes. And Yann realizes that despite the Foundation’s successes, changing mentalities is a long haul process. That’s why he says he has been doing this for the last ten years, and will be doing this for the next ten years. Yann also tells us about his own experience growing up being inspired by entrepreneurial parents, the importance of raising your children equal, and how difficult it is to find a non-pink bike for your daughter.
In this episode Sridhar Iyengar, serial entrepreneur shares his point of view on many subjects from tech startups (of which he has founded 3) and newborns (he only has one so far). Sri tells us about his previous adventures and building a company with values and why that has become more important to him to transform these into concrete objectives. Sri tells us about the importance of having women in boards, including his amazing board member Uma, as well as considering women in product design, a lesson he learned from his previous company Misfit Wearables.
He also tells us about learning how to navigate the world as the son of Indian immigrants in Tennessee and what he learned from his father by not going to his high school prom. Sri tells us about his musically inclined mother who taught him to always fight for his rights. He discusses sharing a workplace with his wife, a biomedical engineer, who contributes immensely to the team at Elemental Machines. Sri shares how his own experience, as well as seeing the women around him struggle, has made him see the need to build the world differently, as a more inclusive place for everyone, including his own daughter, to whom he will teach that she can be absolutely anything she wants.
In this episode we interview Mohannad El Khairy, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, founder of E-11 Capital. Mo tells us about why he supports feminism today, and why he uses his flexibility to support his wife’s corporate career and care for his children, which has earned him the title “modern man,” when it should just be normal. He tells us about how it is important to raise children with perspective and awareness and about how inspired he was by his own mother, a bold Palestinian artist. Mo delves into how his own background growing up in many countries, including as a Palestinian immigrant in Canada, taught him the value of inclusion.
He tells us about why the culture of Silicon Valley needs to profoundly change to catch up with the future, to become more inclusive and impact oriented rather than simply growth focused. We talk about building entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Middle East and why there are more female entrepreneurs percentage wise than in the Silicon Valley. We talk about Mo’s experience building the Bloomberg of the Middle East, the fact that 80% of his staff in Beirut was female, and selling the company to Thomson Reuters and moving to Silicon Valley and why Silicon Valley is in need of a deep culture change.
For the fifth episode of The Other Half we chat with Zahid Torres Rahman, the founder of Business Fights Poverty, a network of over 25,000 professionals at the intersection of business and social impact working together to solve concrete challenges. Zahid provides vivid stories about the long line of inspiring women in his family, beginning with his grandmother who overcame many obstacles to pursue an interracial marriage and his own mother who raised him. He tells us about his experience raising two daughters, his own paternity leave and the importance of teaching your own daughters that they are enough.
Zahid was profoundly influenced by numerous experiences, including arriving in the UK as an immigrant at the age of three and his experience teaching in Zambia. All of this made him want to build a more connected and inclusive world. He tells us about how it served as the foundation for Business Fights Poverty, which he built with his wife Yvette. Built on strong values and ideas, it won awards for the flexibility it offers its employees. Zahid tells us about the innovative ways it brings about social impact and the importance of leveraging the private sector to create lasting social change, including gender equality. We also discuss why these new partnerships are more crucial than ever given the new complexities and challenges of the current COVID-19 crisis. Stay tuned and join the discussion on the BFP website for how businesses can respond to the current rise in gender based violence.
On our fourth episode of The Other Half we are joined by Todd Krim from L.A. also known as Mr. Charity. Todd connects celebrities with causes that they care about to help charities promote their work. In this episode he tells us about coming to the realization that women are not treated equally, do not have the same rights and pay, which has turned him into a supporter. He talks about the power of using Hollywood as a voice and a platform for positive change and his work finding influencers and celebrities that have authentic connections to causes.
He tells us about his connection to his amazing mother, who was smart, creative, compassionate, outspoken, strong, and had great values and ethics. She was the one who inspired his life mantra, to “make the most of every day.” Todd tells us about designing the The World is in Your Hands Campaign with Justin Wu to educate and inspire people to take action now to combat climate change he launched with Antonio Banderas, Susan Sarandon, Rosario Dawson. Perhaps a great idea for what we can all do for gender equality. Everyone can be an actor of change and, through education and individual actions, we would create massive change. He also tells us that this is the time for men to stand up for women.
For our third episode we interviewed Philippe D’Ornano CEO of Sisley, one of the leading cosmetics companies in the world. Philippe tells us about how it has been to work as a man in a female dominated industry and leading a company where the workforce across all levels is mostly female. Philippe’s values have largely been inspired by the work of his mother and father who founded the company, upon which he continues to innovate. Philippe guides us through the importance of looking at motivation to hire humans based on their worth and the importance of living in a society where everyone can express their full potential. He advocates for why government-supported maternity leave is a good idea.
Philippe also promotes his commitment to gender equality through the Sisley Foundation, which engages in countless projects to bring about inclusion of marginalized women who have been through homelessness and prostitution in France and around the world. He also supports the importance of having female role models in fields in which they still are too few, which is why he created the Women in Cinema at the Arcs Film Festival for independent film. Finally he tells us about raising three girls with plenty of curiosity and empathy and their latest joint poetry project, “Bêtes de Compagnie”.
For the second episode of The Other Half we interview Christian Vit, an Italian actor who lives in London and has played in several well known series, including Holby City and Game of Thrones.
We talk about the numerous inequalities in the movie industry, including the enormous pay gap between male and female actors. Christian tells us why this is unjustified and unacceptable, as well as his prediction that this will change in the future. According to Christian the future of cinema holds a much greater place for women who are heroes and leaders.
It is not surprising that Christian holds such values, he is the son of as he terms it a mother and father “team” in which no individual was more important than the other. His team consists of female mentors and agents. As a foreigner in London and in the English movie industry, he also tells us about his own experience with diversity.
This is The Other Half, a show where men talk gender equality with Chiara Condi
On this episode Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense shares stories about
growing up with a business executive mother,
Serving in the Israeli intelligence corps,
Being married to another entrepreneur,
and how these experiences shape his life as a CEO, husband, and father.
And that's all for this episode. Please subscribe, leave us a review, or visit our website at the-otherhalf.com. This episode of The Other Half was edited by Lee-Sean Huang. Until next time.