Across America, Tory Burch has women talking. Not about her iconic Reva flats or Kira handbag collection. Or her signature fragrance and vintage-inspired home decor.
Today she is pushing a new conversation: fighting for gender equality in the workplace. Through her Tory Burch Foundation Embrace Ambition Series — a five-city initiative focused on challenging unconscious bias, shattering stereotypes and empowering women — she is confronting the issues women face in the workplace, and it’s resonating among female entrepreneurs across the globe.
“Ambition does not have a gender. The days where women are expected to limit themselves and their ambitions because of what someone might think are behind us, or should be,” said Burch.
The Embrace Ambition campaign launched in 2017 as a celebrity-studded public service announcement addressing the double standard that exists around ambition — often seen as a positive attribute in men and as a negative one in women — then transformed into a one-day summit in New York City in 2018. This year Embrace Ambition has grown into a weeklong series of two-hour intimate conversations with inspiring leaders, artists and politicians across multiple cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and New York. Sponsors include SAP, Bank of America, PayPal, the Trott Family Foundation, Fossil Group and BDT and Co.
Applications, along with an essay, were required to attend. “Because we believe these conversations are so important, we do not put a price tag on them,” said foundation president Laurie Fabiano. “Instead, we invite people to apply to attend. Within a day we had more than 1,200 applications.”
The event kicked off in Philadelphia on Monday and will conclude on March 8 in New York to coincide with International Women’s Day. Along with the many female entrepreneurs featured onstage this week are Glamour editor-in-chief Samantha Barry; Rep. Jahana Hayes, D. Conn.; a 13-year-old scientist and inventor and Burch’s most inspirational role model, her mother, Reva Robinson.
On stage, mother and daughter reflected on Burch’s childhood. “There were many times when I had so much self-doubt growing up, and I hear my mom’s voice saying, ‘You’re Tory Robinson. Don’t you know who you are?’ Building up yourself and building up your children or your friends and your loved ones is so important, but you have to believe in yourself, and I learned that from you,” she said.
The inspiration is evident: Burch’s iconic, timeless classic — the Reva flat — is named after her mother.
“We all need to stick together because, as we know, women together are the future. And I learned that from my mother,” said Burch. “Every time people say, ‘What was the inspiration for your company?’ It was: ‘My mother.’ ‘Where did you come up with designs?’ It was: ‘My mother.’ Every single thing comes back to my mom.”