June 20, 2016
CNAS 2016 Tenth Annual Conference: The Case for Inclusivity – Lessons from Four National Security Leaders
JULIANNE SMITH: Well, good morning. As Michele mentioned earlier in her opening remarks, we’re going to spend a big part of today talking about many of the national security challenges that this country faces, but we also wanted to spend part of the day talking about statecraft. And by statecraft I mean the how. How to govern? How to build an effective team? How to manage effectively? And that brings us to the question of inclusivity.
CNAS believes, and in fact the science shows that by including issues and focusing on issues like gender diversity in particular, you can improve the effectiveness of the way in which you formulate ideas and manage teams of people. Therefore, at CNAS, we ensure that we make every effort that our work, our staff, our projects, all of the conferences we put on, the panels, ensure a wider range of voices and views.
We work tirelessly to include gender diversity in particular as a key component of our work, except right now. Because the issue of gender inclusivity often involves women presenters speaking to women audiences, we’ve done something a little unusual this morning and we’ve put together an all-star panel of men, which has come to be known as the ever-famous manel. (Laughter.) Now, we’ve put together a group of men that are known champions of inclusivity, broadly defined in both policy and practice. So we’re hoping that you’ll forgive us for this very deliberate manel – it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek – but we do believe that the underlying message of this panel, of this discussion that gender – that including the voice of the 100 percent is not exclusively a priority for the female 50 percent is critical and well-aligned with our national security goals.
So we’ve got a great group of men, again, here assembled for you to talk about ways in which they’ve thought about and included the issue of inclusivity in their work. I’m going to start by introducing our manel. We do have a female moderating the panel. I’ll get to that in a minute. So our manelists are Colonel Fivecoat, who’s the commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. He’s joined by the Honorable Thomas Nides, who is now the managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley. Of course, he served as deputy secretary of state, undersecretary of Clinton. He’s also joined by David Swerdlick, who’s an associate editor – assistant editor at the “Washington Post.” And last but not least these men are joined by Roger Zakheim. He’s a counsel with Convington & Burling and formerly with the House Armed Services Committee.
This whole panel is being moderated by the very able, very prolific author and scholar at Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Lemmon. She’s the author of “Ashley’s War” that I recommend to all of you if you have not read it yet. And without further ado, please join me in welcoming this morning’s manel. Thank you. (Applause.)
GAYLE LEMMON: Good morning everyone. It is really a pleasure to join you. When they first approached me about moderating this, I said, I have sworn off doing women conversations, right, for exactly the reason that you just said. It’s women talking to other women. And actually really I find moving the conversation forward in incremental ways, but it takes 100 percent to actually have a conversation that is relevant, I think, to the national security and foreign policy questions that we want to tackle today. So I’m really delighted. Thank you to each of you for joining. And we’re going to start this morning with a panel that is going to have a reality TV touch. So you’re all going to get your questions here. And the New America Foundation, I know you’re all reading your email. You’re now going to switch to your app because you’re going to vote for – on three live polling questions courtesy of the New America Foundation.
The first is, when I consider inclusivity in relation to security policy it is because it increases effectiveness, in the arena where I work people demand it, it’s the right thing to do morally. Inclusion is a priority for the leadership of my organization. Or I don’t consider it. And I would actually encourage you to be honest because I find with so many of these conversations, everybody says, oh, yeah, inclusivity matters. But the truth is everybody’s problem solving all day.
I worked in finance and in foreign policy and in media, which I guess makes me a little bit of a résumé puzzle, but I think that it is an interesting thing to have seen all three sectors struggle with this question because the truth is everybody’s just trying to get through their day and get their job done the best as possible. And unless there’s conversations in the central nervous system of the discussion, it often gets pushed to the side for a diversity team or an inclusion team that doesn’t have a lot of the power most of the time to actually answer. So that’s our first question. Are we going to see the results now or should we keep going? All right, we’re going to keep going.
The second one is: how often do you consider the different impacts a policy might have. Okay, here we go. So 55 percent say it increases effectiveness and 13 percent say they don’t consider it. And I think in between those two we should have a really interesting conversation today and I think one that is based on candor, rather what everybody feels like they need to say.
The second question is: how often do you consider the different impacts a policy might have on men, women, or other diverse groups. Always, often, sometimes, and never. You can take your voting now. People are how honest should I be in this? (Laughs.) And I think someone, you know, sometimes-ish is probably, you know, where most people are on this. That’s excellent.
And then, the last question is what kind of inputs would make your workplace focus more on inclusivity. Or in other words, what kind of proof do you actually need to see? What would actually make the argument make a difference with the people who you work with every day? Data showing it improves workplace environment, showing effects on hard policy outcomes, mandates, formal legal mandates, or none of the above.
Yeah, and I think that – I think the data piece, for me and also as somebody who left ABC News to go to Business School, the data piece I think is absolutely central to this conversation. I think without the numbers, it becomes a conversation about nice to have without a question about actually effectiveness.
So yeah, so 41 percent say data showing effects on hard policy outcomes and 19 percent say mandates from leadership. And I think the data and the leadership are probably two of the central questions that we want to get to today. So thank you all for actually taking out your phones and voting. This is going to be a little bit less democratic from here on now because I get to have moderator’s prerogative, but I very much appreciate it.
And I want to start actually with Tom Nides to talk a little bit about the private sector because, you know, you hear a lot women currently hold 4 percent of CEO positions of S&P 500 companies, but I think that also underlies some of the data about women holding 51.5 percent of management in professional related positions. What you see a lot in financial services and in other sectors is people who really do want to talk about this and have conversations, but the business case, I feel like it’s still not really there. And I wonder if you agree with that and what you think the conversation needs to be.
THOMAS NIDES: Yeah, I will actually totally disagree unfortunately because – or fortunately because it’s very clear to us. I happen to have the opportunity of working both in government and in business. And there’s a clear business case to be made for more women in the boardroom, more women in the CEO, in the C-suites. Let’s just step back for a minute.
We – right now, 45 percents of the women actually are the leaders of the financial decisions for their families. So we are – not only are we at a bank, but we also have a wealth management business. So that’s who our customers are. Our customers are the women. And in many cases, they are the driving decision maker about where their wealth is going to be spent and how it’s going to be invested. So this is not something nice to have or good to have. It’s, it is the issue which we are dealing with from our perspective.
As it relates to boards, there’s a big push in the UK, in fact, UK is ahead of us in this. There’s a big push in the UK to having 30 percent mandated board membership. Quite frankly, I’m totally supportive of that. The reality is numbers matter. We track everything. We track our P&L. We track people coming and going, track the investor sentiment. The fact to the matter is I don’t think it’s insignificant that you shouldn’t have a board of directors that look like your customers. So the idea that some companies have 10 percent or 15 percent, we need to have 30 percent of our boards of women.
And I think lastly, when you – I guess it’s between 4.5 and 5 percent of S&P 500 companies are led by women. That’s ridiculous. I mean, the fact to the matter is we need to – boards need to be – if there’s more women on boards, guess what’s going to happen? There’s going to be a different succession planning. It’s quite simple. If you have more women on boards, they got more – they need people on the board, they put more women on the board. And consequently, there’s an ongoing event that happens when you do that.
At the end of the day, all these numbers are interesting. The fact to the matter’s it is a smart business decision. So for us, we sit back all the time and look economics, where’s the money going, who’s working, who’s making the money, and who’s making the decisions. It’s clear to us. Women are a major force in that category.
MS. LEMMON: Well, and let me just press you on this for one sec, which is that there still, though, is the huge mismatch between sort of how women in financial services firms or corporate sector ascend to leadership, and I think the conversation that goes on about how important they are. And how do you narrow that gap? Is it pipeline? Is it time? Is it leadership?
MR. NIDES: Well, first of all, you have the whole, you have the whole companies like ours accountable, right? At the end of the day, investors invest. They talk with their money. So if you’re willing to reward, the statistics will show. We did a study about – it came out about six months ago – companies will have more women representation actually do better on a performance level than those who done, okay? So this is not, this is not like a nice to have, sweet, kind of a good, you know, one of the best places to work. It is where you ultimately drive shareholder value. So the fact to the matter is shareholders need to speak. And if they speak and say, listen, it’s unacceptable that you have less than 30 percent of your board are women. It’s unacceptable that your senior manager – there’s not enough women in the senior management.
Listen, this is not easy to do. It’s not – nothing is easy to do. It’s not easy to be government. It’s not easy to be, certainly, in the military. It’s not easy to do any of these. The fact to the matter is you have to hold people accountable. If you hold people accountable, things will happen.
MS. LEMMON: Yeah, and people vote with their wallet. And I think –
MR. NIDES: Without question.
MS. LEMMON: – people also don’t necessarily take or feel that way. They don’t feel as empowered to vote with their wallets I think as they truly are.
MR. NIDES: Well, they’ll wake up when their stocks are performing. And they’ll wake up when they – the CEO no longer has a job. And they’ll wake up when the fact that, you know, organizations, lots of shareholders organizations are making companies like us accountable for our actions. And as you do that, you’ll see more and more movement in the right direction.
The fact to the matter is you are what you track. You’ve got to track it. You’ve got to hold people accountable. You have to praise those who do well and you have to basically push those who need improvement.
MS. LEMMON: Colonel Fivecoat, you and I first met when I was covering the opening of Army Ranger School. And that is a decision that I think a lot of you in this room were probably tracking fairly closely. It was actually fascinating to cover because we went down to do a story that was about the opening of Ranger School and ended up doing a story that had the words standards in it probably 7,800 times. Because the big concern for women and men was that the perception was that standards were going to be changed if Army Ranger School were open to women. And I wonder, first of all, what that experience about watching the first women graduate from Army Ranger School and overseeing that, leading that process taught you and I think also what you think it taught the Army.
COLONEL DAVID FIVECOAT: Well, one of the strengths of the program where we brought women in the Ranger School, which started back in April of 2015 was when the first woman reported, we’ve really been working on it since really about August of ’14 to prepare for it. But one of the real strengths of the program was that it was one standard. And so everybody that comes to Ranger School has to do the same 49 pushups, the same 59 sit-ups, the same five-mile run in under 40 minutes, and the same six chin-ups. Same thing with the road march. You have to do 12 miles in three hours or less, carrying a 47.5 pound pack.
To us the real strength was one standard and we publicized it. We tried to be as transparent as possible. And that has been a real strength of it that folks can – once they know the standard, they can train and meet the standard. When folks ask, hey, you know, did – how did the women do, one of the anecdotes I like to share is about Kristen Griest, who’s one of the women that earned the Ranger tab. Well, Kristen Griest, on her third time through Darby, which is called the Darby Phase of Ranger School, had to do the road march. And in the road march, it’s an individual event. And each of the soldiers can go as fast or slow as they want. And Kristen finished fourth overall. She beat all – about 150 of her male peers and the other two women that were also in it. So when folks say, hey, can folks meet one standard, I say, sure.
MS. LEMMON: You also took a whole lot of grief for your role as a leader in this. And I wonder what you think that says about change and change leadership in terms of people really not necessarily wanting to believe that there was one standard or people really coming to you and saying, can we really trust this? Is it going to water down the United States Military if we have women coming out of Ranger School and then entering into the Special Operation Forces as rangers and SEALs and others in their own right?
COL. FIVECOAT: Well, I was a little bit surprised by the discussion centering around Ranger School. I’m sort of a pragmatic person. I’ve been in the Army since 1993. I’ve done three deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. And in each deployment there was a woman soldier that did something during that deployment that was amazing. And so there were women on the battlefield already doing amazing things. In 2010-2011, I commanded a battalion in Afghanistan and made the decision to put two women down with each rifle company. And so there were women living down in the small FOBs with the infantry and working with them day-to-day. But it was a pragmatic decision. We needed to be able to talk to the 50 percent of the population when we went out to search the – (inaudible).
And so it’s a bit surprising to me that the discussion came around in 2016, rather than 1989, when a female captain led an attack against the PDF organization in Panama, or in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, or 2005, when Sergeant Hester earned the Silver Star. Sergeant Hester, if you’re not familiar with her, is an MP. She was attacked in her convoy along the road down to Salman Pak. I fought in Salman Pak in 2007 and 2008. It’s extremely difficult place to be. But she and her squad leader led the attack after the ambush happened on the insurgence, and at the end, there were 27 dead insurgents, including three that Sergeant Hester killed herself.
And so the discussion didn’t happen at that point in time, but for whatever reason it happens now in 2016.
MS. LEMMON: Well, I think it’s fascinating and also a product of something else you’ll probably talk about a lot today, which is the gap between the less than 1 percent who serve and the rest of the country in whose name they fight. And I think that is – it’s a symptom of a broader conversation about the distance between the people who go and deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen and all kinds of other places and everybody else who has the luxury of not really paying attention to America’s wars and what that means for us as an electorate.
We vote with your – you vote with your wallet, but you also vote with your clicks, which I think people don’t focus on enough in terms of every time you click on a story, every time you read something, you’re voting. And David Swerdlick is in charge of a lot of what you’re reading on WashingtonPost.com. I hope not reading right now. (Laughter.) And he is part of “Post” – yeah. (Laughter.) He says, yes, do. He will be paid based on that. So we – I really appreciate you being here because I think a lot of times the media angle is left out.
I worked at “This Week” many moons ago. The first year that George Stephanopoulos took it. And people would give us a lot of headache about why are there more women. And then, it became a circular conversation. Well, there aren’t enough women talkers out there. There aren’t enough women on op-ed pages. And the truth is that when you look at the numbers, they’re pretty staggering. There was a study that showed men wrote the majority of stories in the seven largest sections. This was a 2014 study of “New York Times.” And opinion was 76 percent men. And I wonder does that matter? And if it does, how do you go about broadening that pipeline exactly through we’re just talking about it in both the military and in the private sector?
DAVID SWERDLICK: Sure, Gayle. I think it does matter a lot. I think, as it’s already been said, it’s a matter, as an editor, of seeing that it’s good for your business to have diversity, although in my case, as an assistant editor, when I think about my business, it’s not the bottom line, as much as it is if our mission is to give a variety of diverse perspectives on a given issue, whether it’s a national security or something else, then you have to have different voices, different perspectives, men, women, racial and ethnic diversity, but also diversity of thought.
So I think there are two things that help you get there. One is this idea of it has to be throughout your editorial organization. A lot of credit to my boss, Adam Kushner, who is the outlook editor for the “Washington Post.” He’s a man, but he – the majority of our team is women. We have – we have diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, and we also have diversity in terms of where folks come from. I use myself as an example. He brought me in from TheRoot.com, which some of you may be familiar with, which is an African-American publican. Used to be owned by the “Post.” Now is owned by Univision. But the point is that I don’t come from a traditional newspaper background, but coming from the African-American media, I like to think I bring a certain perspective to the team just that adds to the mixture of what we’re trying to present to readers in terms of how we cover different issues.
The other thing that I think is important Gayle, when you talk about how to bring diversity to coverage, especially in an opinion section, is this idea that diversity isn’t just men and women or races, right? I use, as one example, I think he’s still here in the room. Recently, Jason Dempsey, from CNAS, wrote a piece for us about the controversy of West Point over the cadets from a few weeks ago. And Jason is white. He’s not African-American, but Jason gave this incredibly impassioned, incredibly well reasoned, incredibly historically nuanced piece about the way people were looking at this case and that maybe people in and out of the military community needed to look at it from a slightly different perspective. And as an editor, you have to recognize that you don’t always have to have a black writer tell a story about black people, for instance, but at the same time you have to also understand that as great as what Jason said – was said essentially, excuse me, you might imagine that an African-American writer or an African-American woman writer writing about African-American women cadets might have said something as equally insightful, but coming from a totally different angle.
I think you have to understand that diversity is the thought, as well as the numbers.
MS. LEMMON: Well, and I think some of it is also the way we frame these issues, we being all of us. I remember working on “Ashley’s War,” which is – I always saw as a Special Operations story, you know, war story. And people would say, oh, you wrote that women’s book. What are you talking about? The story is, you know, the story is – that’s never how I saw it. And I came to realize, in my view, that a story that has two or more women in it becomes a women’s story. And a story with no women in it gets to be just a story.
MR. SWERDLICK: Yeah. No, I think I –
MS. LEMMON: And that it’s – that’s on all of us, right, I mean in terms of framing?
MR. SWERDLICK: I think that’s right, Gayle. You know, when you and I have talked about “Ashley’s War” story, right, I mean that is the thing. I mean, folks want to sort of talk about it in terms of women’s story, but it really is this broader story about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MS. LEMMON: And who fights them.
MR. SWERDLICK: Who fights them, what we’re trying to accomplish in those wars, and then also this idea that women aren’t just there for diversity, but actually because they’re bringing this added dimension to the battlefield.
MS. LEMMON: I’m going to turn to you about the issue of team building. When you’re on a national security mandate, when the conversation is get it done, America’s in two wars, right, we need you to do a, b, and c on the Hill, right? The diversity question or the issue of inclusion or are women part of it is not going to be the first question. People are going to ask you, are you executing, right? And I wonder, as somebody who’s built these teams where you see the benefit in this, if at all. And I think I would love you to be very honest or at least as honest as you would be in our intimate audience here.
ROGER ZAKHEIM: Entirely honest.
MS. LEMMON: Yeah.
MR. ZAKHEIM: Well, first, I just want to say because I didn’t – I am to be on a manel. I’m serious. I’ve never been on a manel before. And that perhaps is –
MS. LEMMON: I’m very surprised by that.
MR. ZAKHEIM: Maybe you shouldn’t because, you know, I’m somebody who’s, you know, coming down to 40 crowd – (inaudible).
MS. LEMMON: Are you being ageist now?
MR. ZAKHEIM: That I am, I’m definitely an ageist. But for me it’s quite unusual actually to be on a panel with just men and it’s unusual in my home, too. I’m a father of four daughters, so I’m always surrounded by women. So this is really unique and, you know, conversation really is less interesting and the result in my judgment. But in terms of building a team in national security, I’ve had an opportunity with different campaigns and that’s the one that stands out most, presidential campaign. We’re building out a transition team and looking at personnel.
And truth was when you look at the more senior people, you know, who’s going to be deputy secretary that or undersecretary in the world of national security, I was surprised how few women kind of were on that short list. And kind of what you just said before kind of resonates with me, and then, absolutely, we say, well, that’s not going to work. We’ve got to dig harder, look deeper, look across. You know, and it wasn’t really compromising standards, just the people you thought of first probably because you’re like, okay, who was a former so and so that now would naturally ascend to the next position.
On the other hand, you know, coming from the Hill, you know, consistent with my experience of never being on a manel before, I’ve never worked in a job where there wasn’t diversity, particularly between, you know, having men and women in national security space. And those are barriers broken before I arrived perhaps on the scene in policymaking. And in terms, you know, kind of this the one standard approach that the Colonel referenced or just the effectiveness, that is how you judge it. And it really was never a question of you need either the male voice or female voice. However, I would say –
MS. LEMMON: Was it hard to find when you went out and looked and said we need to go –
MR. ZAKHEIM: You know what it was? In the end, it was basically look – it was – there were younger people who were just more in numbers and so you said, okay, well, that person, we should kind of put on that list for the perhaps most senior post, whereas generally you would say, oh, you wanted somebody with previously something else. And this – they weren’t in that position.
But I would say for the most part, whether it was traveling to, you know, Iraq, Afghanistan, the congressional delegations and sitting in the – (inaudible) – hall and just looking at diversity there to, as I mentioned, you know, when I worked on the Armed Services Committee, there were always, you know, men, women, people of different faith, people of different ethnicity, and it’s just pretty much a reflection of my professional experience. But you know, may be surprising to the folks in the room, but it’s generally the rule in the places I’ve worked.
MS. LEMMON: Colonel Fivecoat, I should go back to you for a second. Is this a national security conversation or is this a luxury or both?
COL. FIVECOAT: Well, I’m only a small part of the Department of Defense and a really small part of the Army.
MS. LEMMON: I won’t get you in trouble, I promise.
COL. FIVECOAT: Secretary Carter is going to talk this afternoon, so you can ask him on that one.
MS. LEMMON: (Laughs.)
COL. FIVECOAT: But it was a very pragmatic issue for us. One of the great things that we got to do was we put out an ALARACT or an All Army Message and brought in over 50 talented women officers and NCOs to work as cadres alongside the male ranger instructors and we call them observer advisors. And so through that weeklong process we basically put the women through the first week of Ranger School because we never put women through the first week of Ranger School before. We used that as some data points to help us as we got ready. We did this in November of ’14, before the women came in April of ’15. And then, we had the opportunity to put these 31 women across the brigade. And we put three women in the brigade staff. One of them was an ophthalmologist, but we didn’t put her to work – doing – looking at our eyes, and not just dealing with women’s issues. She handled a variety of issues. She’s an incredible writer.
And so I really see it as just a talent management issue. You know, we were able to hire some women from across the Army that came to the organization with talent and we were able to put them to work. Some of our subordinate organizations did it better than others and so we learned a good lesson there, that the ones that really brought the women in and used them to their full potential really got a lot more out of some of the organizations.
MS. LEMMON: Well and I want to maybe go to Tom on this and maybe have the conversation, which is when I did a story, five years ago actually now, about Secretary Clinton – for Tina Brown, for “Newsweek” about Secretary Clinton’s push to put women at the center of U.S. foreign policy, there was a very seasoned diplomat who said to me, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer are the Batman and Robin of this issue of putting women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. And there’ll never be anybody who will be as good at it or care as much about it as these two do. And I wonder, as you look forward, has that legacy lasted or is this really hard to actually put this in the central nervous system of every trip, of every, you know, the way it was there when people would tell me during the interview process, if you send back – send a schedule to the Secretary’s office that doesn’t have a conversation that mentions or that includes women somewhere, they will likely send back the schedule for you to review.
MR. NIDES: Well – (inaudible) – I’m a little bit biased here, but I will say probably really good way to foot stop that is probably this election will probably allow us to even push that down even farther through the government, depending on the outcome of the election. So you can draw any conclusion you want from that.
I think – I’m very focused on exactly what you said because when Secretary Clinton created the Global Women’s Office and made Melanne, who everyone knew she was very close to Secretary Clinton, that helped. It kind of got the wheels going. And people like, oh, we got to make sure Melanne’s – you know, Melanne’s focused and tough and she made sure it was driven and she knew she was pushing on an open door with Secretary Clinton. And there was some concern about oh, what’s going to happen when Secretary Clinton stepped down. They didn’t miss a bit. Cathy Russell has a spectacular job of following and building upon the legacy of Melanne started. And now, I will guarantee you, I don’t care who is president of the United States or I guess I do care, but – (laughter) – who is the secretary of state, that office will never go away. And the reality of this is that’s what I mean I got to be very – (inaudible). Things have got to be institutionalized. As the Colonel has achieved something that will never change. You know, women rangers are never going away. They will be treated just like any other ranger and it’s here to stay.
And that’s what we need to do in real concrete – in government is very hard – once something is in place it’s very hard to change it and for good and for bad. In this particular place, it is for good. It’s in fact interesting enough like two weeks ago Ambassador Russell came to see me and she came to see me because they wanted to create a Global Women’s entrepreneurship program with an organization called Kiva. And really was about funding SMEs through crowdsourcing because as we all know many women entrepreneurs and certainly in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are really SMEs. They are the ones the most underfunded. If we can get that moving, that energy moving, those policies will forever be in place.
And so I think exactly what you said, I am, I’m completely confident once we put these programs in placed with real staff, with real budget, with real focus and real goals, they were not going away and I think in particular issues around women and entrepreneurship are here to stay.
MS. LEMMON: And I’ll come back to you – (inaudible) –
MR. ZAKHEIM: Yeah, I mean, I take the point and you know kind of as the Republican on the stage, you know, I think generally creating new offices, institutionalizing is one way to go about business, but ultimately what’s perhaps the most effective way to accomplish what we’re discussing here is just, is promoting our values and making sure we have voices and there’re men and women, you know, promoting those values. You know, in my experience on the Armed Services Committee, when we’re doing the debates on women in combat, happened to be the best voice, the most authoritative voice happened to be woman, whether it was Jackie Spear or, you know, Vicky Hartzler on both sides of the issue, talking about standards. And they were the ones who were authoritative.
And I think ultimately what we need are more voices, more diverse voices. That’s going to kind of surmount and hopefully have a longer standing legacy than any particular office, institution you can create in some, you know, bureaucratic structure. I think that’s where we need to be focused.
MS. LEMMON: Well, I want to go back to where Tom responded and I –
MR. NIDES: Yeah, I, you know, I respect that, however –
MR. ZAKHEIM: I feel like I’m going get disrespected.
MR. ZAKHEIM: With all due respect.
MR. NIDES: You know, having, having come from the, having had the opportunity to be both in government and business, it’s the same in business. You can have all the talk you want. You can have all of the – try to get the award, you can do everything you want. There’s a lot of people in this who have been in both government and business. I saw my friend Tom Schick there, he knows as well as anyone. This matters, right? You have to put in metrics. You have to have programs at work. You have to have staff associated with it. You have to hold people accountable. If you don’t do that, it will not happen. And I agree with you, you have to – it can’t be – you can’t force it upon people, but – and I’m not saying you build every program and fund every program, but I am, I am convinced. Particularly if I look at this program that Secretary Clinton build before she left, when she created this office, there was a handful of people very focused on this issue. And the reality is when you made this comment about her schedule, the fact to the matter is, and I think John Kerry has continued that, that matters. You go to Afghanistan and you’re trying to fight a war in Afghanistan, the fact to the matter is if you don’t spend time with women and women small business owners and civil society, you – as Dave Petraeus used to say, you know, you know, your job is clear and the State Department is the home.
The only way you could hold the peace is through these programs. And they have to be real and they have to be concrete.
MS. LEMMON: So I want to push you on that a little bit because it’s fascinating. At the Council on Foreign Relations, if we put women in the title of a program that is a national security conversation, guess who shows up? Almost only women. And one day, I held an event as an experiment. We happened to have – I’d written a paper about child marriage and fragile states, which to me is a really imperative national security issue because fragile states are where, you know, a huge chunk of poverty and conflict, both are emanating from. And yet, we look at the combatants in those places as if they don’t come from families.
And so when you overlap this, we found that nine out of 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are considered fragile states. You know, if you look at the three of the 10 at the bottom of the failed states index have child marriage rates above 40 percent. So we’re so excited to present this and it was at the same time that they were hosting an event at CFR on the QDR. And you could genuinely sit in the lobby of the Council on Foreign Relations and watch all the men go to the QDR event, and all the women come to the fragile states and child marriage conversation.
I said, this is the whole problem. We need this – this needs to be one room with one conversation about the broader issue. And yet, I think still on the national security conversation women stuff is here and the national security conversation is in, is in the Grand Ball room. And I wonder if you agree with that or how you think we –
MR. ZAKHEIM: Probably those men didn’t realize the QDR is dead.
MS. LEMMON: This was a year ago.
MR. ZAKHEIM: Yeah, well, so clearly they were behind the time in a number of respects. I mean, I think this is about voices and is about values, right? Perhaps what Tom’s talking about just ways we go ahead and promote those values and you create offices. But in the end of the day, this is a value and it’s a value, obviously, that is held deeply and across party lines, across gender, race and ethnicity. And we got to – we just need to continue promote it.
In some debates, like the debate that Colonel Fivecoat was kind of – (inaudible) – center of, women have the authoritative voice, as they should. And that was my experience –
MS. LEMMON: But the male, but men leaders, would you argue, have to play an inferential role in this conversation?
MR. ZAKHEIM: I think all leaders have to play a role, but in the end of the day, when there’s a debate in the committee about, you know, body armor designed for women, okay, which we had in the committee, I can’t remember what was the proposition against, but it came up. I’m not sure who took that position. Dedicated funding line. You know, Ike Skelton is not going to go ahead and lead that debate. That’s not authoritative voice. He can’t speak to it from experience, but a number of women on the committee could and did. And that was an important debate impact.
I mean, and the values plays on a lot of different ways. And one of the anecdotes, as we’re emailing before, that kind of came to mind, I remember the Obama administration was going to announce – was announcing their drawdown in Afghanistan. And the folks on my side of the aisle were obviously very concerned about that policy. But the person – and this was in the Intelligence Committee briefing closed, but I remember Leader Pelosi came in and took those administration officials to task because what would it do to all the progress that was made for Afghan women and Afghan children. A great example of how values impact policy and how female voice and authority really shape the conversation in the room and I do think made an impact.
So I think values, deep-seated values just need to be promoted and developed to make sure we have a chorus of voices across the spectrum.
MS. LEMMON: Well, and on the chorus of voices point, David, I mean, how do you – how important do you think leadership is in this question? I mean, does it matter? Does the “Washington Post” need to go out and actually you know find people or should it just basically, you know, look at amplifying the people who are already in the arena?
MR. SWERDLICK: Yeah, no, leadership is important and I think the thread running through both of these discussions is whether you’re talking about creating systems and structures or whether you’re talking about values is that, I think, a lot of the time to achieve diversity, it has to be deliberate, whether there’s an actual program in place. If it’s not coming from the top and deliberate, then you’re going to wind up not achieving most of the time. Sometimes it happens just organically, but most of the time not going to wind up achieving the diversity that you wanted in terms of voice or anything else.
So you need senior editorial leadership in a newspaper context to make it a priority and to have it be a deliberate priority. Then, that leads to having people at, you know, my staff editorial level, you know, working on issues of diversity and thinking about having diverse voices, and that leads to having lighters of diverse voices, especially in the opinion read, as you said, Gayle. Right, when you have the majority of op-eds being written by white men, especially those numbers go higher when you’re talking about certain issues like foreign policy or Nat Sec, you’ve got to make this deliberate effort to say, okay, have we done our job as journalists to get all the perspectives that we can on a given issue or are we only looking to experts who come from one perspective or another?
MS. LEMMON: Well, it’s interesting, there was a piece that I love and actually wrote about that, was researchers from McGill and from Chicago wrote a piece that said, women write about family, men write about war. And it looked at the “New York Times” book review as just the proxy of what’s reviewed. And it said, yes, women are getting reviewed more, but it’s mostly when they write about work life and family. And I remember being at business school and just stopping the (cars ?) one day and saying, every case we have about women has to do with work life. And yet, I’ve never seen a male CEO, when we talked about, well, how can he work with his kids, how can he do his job? Is he going to get home for dinner? You know, and I think that is also part of sort of how we see these issues, which doesn’t mean that nobody should have, but I don’t think just women should.
MR. ZAKHEIM: No, I just, the flipside, I think my daughter. My oldest daughter who plays on the basketball league with boys and girls. She is not interested in being the best girl on the court, not at all. She just wants to be the best player on the court. And I think – I actually – what concerns me sometimes about these conversations is that the society, we get concerned – we get a little hung up on the value of just being a woman on the court. And that’s not what she’s seeking to achieve. That’s not what she wants to be.
MS. LEMMON: Well, I don’t think that’s what anybody would be seeking to achieve. I mean, I think that’s the whole – but I think it’s a really important point because I think that is what it can become if you don’t actually talk about the talent management piece and the contribution piece and, I mean, and the economics issue and the national security issue that this conversation I think was trying to provoke. And I guess I would just leave with Colonel Fivecoat. I want to look forward a little bit.
We talk about America’s wars and where they are right now and I wonder where you see the legacy of what’s happening with Ranger School because now rangers are open to women. Soon there’ll be – people drop packets for SEALs, but you now have women in the infantry and I wonder what you think that acceptance process is going to be and what determines how it succeeds.
COL. FIVECOAT: Well, Gayle, you know, I started out at West Point, in 1989, which is, you know, nine years after the first women graduated from West Point. And it’s a slow and long process. You know, the opening of Ranger School is the start of the process. We’re not at the end. This is a good 20-year process that’s going to take quite a while to see through all the bumps and hurdles that come in the next 20 years.
The Canadian infantry has been open since 1989. It eventually normalized. There’s about 50 women in the Canadian infantry that are serving right now alongside the men, and there was no real discussion in Canada about their deployment to Afghanistan. And so it will eventually normalize out. It’s going to take some time. You know, the first women report to Fort Benning here in the next couple of days to attend both the armor and infantry basic courses. And we expect to see them in Ranger School here this fall.
We’ve had 12 women attend Ranger School since the three graduated. But it doesn’t really make a whole bunch of noise or –
MS. LEMMON: We don’t come down just one phase.
COL. FIVECOAT: Right, right, we don’t have such reporters down there every term. And so it’s already begun to normalize, but it’s going to take some time as we work our way through it.
MR. NIDES: So I, it’s a – (good ?) – stuff. I really do think that what you all have done on the ranger thing has significantly changed the odd. And I go back to your question about leadership. Leadership matters. I mean, just look at this room. I mean, Michele runs this organization. There’s a huge number of women in this room. And the reality of this is this panel has been a leadership map, right? I mean, no one’s going to suggest this is not a strong defense oriented organization, but having this conversation, it starts from the top. It’s driven down to the organization. It proves you that when you have the right leaders with the right focus, things certainly move forward.
MS. LEMMON: Right, and David, just last point to you, where do you think this all goes in terms of where you see things in the next five years?
MR. SWERDLICK: I think it’s changing. Maybe too slowly, but I think, again, I’m speaking from the media context, I do think that we’re getting to this point where it is becoming at least, maybe not on Nat Sec, but on a lot of issues in terms of opinion writing and in terms of reporting, we are becoming more comfortable, more accustomed to women being the leading reporters or writers or, you know, thought leaders on a lot of different issues. You know, I think you’re write that, you know, as you’re talking about your daughter, as different generations come up, it seems less and less strange to talk about women in combat roles, women covering Nat Sec, et cetera.
MS. LEMMON: Well, I think real success will be if we don’t have to have a panel like this again. Right? I mean and have these conversations because they will be so – with the natural sort of second nature –
MR. ZAKHEIM: We’ll probably have a womanel. (Laughter.)
MS. LEMMON: And so just to recap, shareholders, transparency, leadership, and values. And I wish you all a wonderful conference and a terrific rest of the day and thank you for joining us. (Applause.)
MR. ZAKHEIM: Thank you.
MR. NIDES: Thank you. (Applause.)