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Ivanka Trump at Fortune's MPW Summit

December 19, 2019 16:58 PM UTC
- Updated February 18, 2020 15:58 PM UTC

Ivanka Trump talks her dad’s campaign and business.

thank you for being here. We appreciate your coming. I know you were observing the holidays, and you have a debate to get to. So let's get right to it. Um, you called your father's comments on the access Hollywood tape clearly offensive and inappropriate and said that you were glad that he had acknowledged that I apologize. But I'm sure you understand that many people were not just defended by the language. They were offended by the actions he was describing. Were you wait a warm up. Thank you, Nancy. Um, it's lovely to be here in California. Well, I think, um, I think my remarks were clear on this front. I did find it to be offensive. He acknowledged it was Well, the tape was over a decade old. I'm sure he didn't remember this conversation, but was very embarrassed by it. And he expressed that not only to me personally, but but to the American people on dhe. You know, I appreciate that he did that. I think it was very, very important for him to have done. Hey, what did he say to you? Father and daughter? About About that? Well, he recognizes it was crude language. He was embarrassed that he said those things, and he apologized. This is, you know, that's not language consistent with any conversation I've ever had with him, certainly, or any conversation that I've overheard. So it's a bit jarring for me to hear, and and he was very sincere in his apology. So, you know, I I have the good fortune of knowing my father so well, not only as a parent, and he's been an amazing parents. Me and I'm now ah, mother of three Children, ages five, um, and, uh, from 5 to 3 to six months. So I don't take for granted in any way how hard it is to be a good parents. And he was a loving and supportive and tough at times, parents who challenged me and my siblings to achieve our potential and, um, and helped us find purpose in our lives, which is which is what any parent can do. But I've also known him in the capacity as a leader and an executive at the Trump Organization, where I've also worked in addition to my own brand for over a decade, and I've been seen him inspire tens of thousands of people. He sets a bold vision on aggressive vision, and he helps people realized that cold. Um, you know, there are some people who are managers of people, and there's some people who are leaders of people, and he is very much a leader of people. And I've seen it my whole life in a business capacity. So I I know him, um so well, personally and professionally. And you know, when when things have happened through the course of this campaign that are uncomfortable for us is a family. Oftentimes things have been said that our mischaracterizations or interpretations that are false on some and not consistent with his intent. Uh, you know, a statement filmmaker. We talk about it so you know that we have a very open dialogue, and I and I think that's one of the things that I respect so much about him. The willingness to listen and look. He's very much his own man. Just like I am very much my own woman. I have opinions. My opinions are my own. I express them to him when I'm excited when I'm disappointed and everywhere in between. Um, I'm I'm certainly not sheepish about sharing the opinions, but I do so in practice. We've talked a little about your role in this campaign. You spend a lot of time building very successful retail brand who's sort, of course theme was about female empowerment. And yet you that identity, for the moment has been over. Taken by your role is one of the most visible member of the inner circle of the Republican nominee, who just in the last two weeks has, um, body shamed of Miss Universe contestant and appeared in that tape and suggested that other women's has accused him were too unattractive to have assaulted. Does that put you in an impossible position? Well, first of all, I feel it's an amazing community of incredible women over the course of many years. So you know, this was my women who work initiative, and my brand was launched. Far belongs, but far before the presidential cycle commenced and will continue long afterwards. And I'm incredibly proud of the work that I'm doing there, and I've always tried to maintain complete separation between that and the campaign with that said, You know, one of the challenging things is just operating, living one's life with the intensity and the scrutiny of this process is a very hard thing, actually to do so. You know the words you don't like being called a surrogate. I hate the word surrogate because what does that mean when people talk about I'm his confident? At one point they were actually saying major newspapers were publicly were. We're writing that I was a vice presidential candidate. I'm saying No, I'm a daughter. I You know, I don't express my views on policy with one exception as it relates to child care and advocating for women because I I never thought I'd have this platform. But it was incredibly important for me to participate in that conversation and very core to my personal and professional mission over the last decade. So I stepped into the fray on that front. But no, I'm not a surrogate. I'm a daughter. When I stood in front of the RNC and shared that, I'm in an independent, which is very consistent with many other millennials on dhe, many other people you know, I'm not dogmatically aligned with any party, and I share my thoughts with my my father very candidly. But But I do dismiss this idea of a surrogate because I don't think it appreciate the role that I'm playing as my father's daughter and I love him very much, and I'm very, very proud of what he's accomplished. And he's been a great dad today, But I'm not the campaign mastermind a CZ People love to portray and speculate, and I've been very honest on that from that moment at the convention when you talked about you not being Republican and you're standing of the Republican convention. But, uh, how much? I was very nervous about that, actually, because I said, You know what kind of responsible I get to this standing in front of Arena packed with Republicans and expressing myself candidly, as as an independent who really vote based on the candidate is supposed to dogmatically based on on party affiliations. And, um, there section was incredibly warm to the idea that I put forward to my perspective on the campaign process. Um, you know, and I think a lot of people are like me, are socially more liberal and fiscally rather conservative, and find themselves somewhere in the middle. So I think that that resonates with a tremendous number of people, and I was really impressed with this part of the look. We're not politicians, so, you know, I wasn't I wasn't groomed. View anyone thing on. And, you know, my father never expected me to sort of fall in line. When I talk about him, I talk about him, you know, to to groups like this and when people ask me about politics, I talk about what a great daddy won. I talked about what a great businessman he's been, because that's what I know. You everyone else can debate policy. That's what I know. And I know he would be a great leader for this country. And that's why I'm not afraid to articulate that there is, at the moment a gender gap that's opened up bigger than any time since the 19 eighties. Why do you think, um, are you talking about wage inequality? Gender gap in the who? Which candidate men women are supporting the mystery Oh, a gender gap in terms of the actual race. Look, I think, um, I think we'll have to see. I think we'll have to see what actually happens when people go to vote. Um, and I do think that there will be a lot of support that is in currently being recorded in the polls that are being conducted on a daily basis. I have people pulling me aside and telling me how them and every one of their friends are voting for my father. But they live in very Democratic communities on don't feel comfortable articulating that to their friends and neighbors. So so I don't know. Let's let's see what happens. But But, you know, I do think there, uh, well, we'll see if that ends up handing out and with the actual result in and one way or another, we'll know soon enough. Come November, you. We're talking about your brand that you have built. A lot of it has been about how women live their daily lives, what they need in their daily lives. Think. Yesterday, the Huffington Post did a poll after your customers, whether your role this year has made them more or less likely to buy your product. The Trump brand has become so embedded in the political conversation. How do you see the future of that brand regardless of what happens considering the disclaimer that the Huffington Post puts on the bottom of every piece of content relating to my father would hardly consider them a neutral voice on this particular topic. But look, I'm very proud of the business that I built. I'm incredibly proud to play a small role in debunking this caricature of what a working woman looked like in creating content that's actionable, that tip oriented for this young working woman that encourages her to architect of life that she wants to live. I've been doing it for years. I'll continue to do it and sure there will be critics. That's fine. I mean, look, now I go to school. I take my kids for drop off and their photographer standing outside. They pick pictures of me leaving my home to drop my kids off at school, and then I have to see in the papers that I'm being wheeled out. Thio Appeal Thio Working mothers. I'm saying what kind of cynical interpretation is that of dropping your kids off at school? Or I'll have other people who are critics who don't like the fact that I've been engaged in in a long term campaign to support young professional women, and I'm very proud of the community that I built. It's totally apolitical. We don't talk about politics. I don't cover the election on my site. I've made a very conscious decision to stay away from that because, um, you know, that's really if it would bring certainly noise and attention. But that's not the long term goal. It's not supposed to be a political forum, and I'm very, very proud of the business I built were doing hundreds of millions of dollars in retail sales. Um, I have a large central footprint that supporting and sharing the stories of these amazing women. And, yes, some people will say it's in service of campaign. But that is not consistent with the fact that it existed long before the campaign commence. So I have to just shrug, shrug things off. It's It's a very difficult environment in which to operate because critics have loud voices, um, and make them hurt. Also, in my role at the Trump organization, we've built an amazing business. We employ a lot of people who are deeply passionate about showing up at work every day. We're one of the fastest growing luxury hotel companies in the world. We're opening a massive $200 million building on Pennsylvania Avenue in a couple of weeks. It had a soft opening just recently, and when you read the papers, it's like my father's done nothing. I'm very proud of the business he built. I'm very proud of how it's grown. He's accomplished many great things and we'll read a story. And it's one person who works for him 20 years ago, saying he walked in a very good ball. What about the thousands of people who are deeply passionate about showing up every day? So it is. Look, I'm I may have been naive going into this. Nothing in life prepares you for a parent running for the president of the United States. And nothing. There's no training, and I would say, That's true. Probably any even a political family. Nothing prepares you, but at least then you've leg been to the rodeo and maybe participated in the campaign or two. Nothing prepares you for this, but it is very hard to live your life, um, and, uh, and continue to sort of build and grow your business because there is a sort of cynical overlay. I will say you mentioned it before, but, um You know, I made a very purposeful determination at the beginning of this campaign not to talk policy because I'm not the candidate. I'm not an advisor. I'm a daughter. So my opinion is a distraction, and it's truthfully, I don't believe all that relevant. My father's opinion and with the American people care about because they're the ones he's voting for. But I did tell you I demand an exception as it pertains to the child care and elder care policy to keep it for us. And I'm really proud of that which represents such a significant departure from Republican orthodoxy. Until now. How much pushback did you get when you were trying to build support for that? I thought I would get tremendous, but I went down to the sea because I knew that there would be some pushback on dhe. I met with some of the top Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and the support was incredible. And I'm very, very proud. So, you know, regardless of what happens, obviously, I'm very optimistic. My father will win in November, and then I know that he'll be able to move the needle forward on this front, but regardless of what happens. I feel that this campaign and the small role that I played in it will move the needle on some really important issues. Look, you know, some of the sticks that blow my mind is now that child care is a single largest family expense and more than half of American households even exceeding the cost of housing. That's insane. It's unsustainable. The tax code was also written in a time 65 years ago when dual income families were not the norm. This needs to reflect the composition of the modern workforce on while you combine that with the fact that now motherhood is the greatest predictor of gender inequality or the greatest predictor of wage inequality, even surpassing gender. So you know there's there's a structural problem and families, it's not a women's issue per se. All the women are being disproportionately affected by it, and you see it in terms of wage disparity. It's it's a family issue and we really need to support families. We need to be innovative about child care and put forth solutions that will bring down the call, and we need to treat it like a cost of doing business because it is. I can't go into the office if my Children aren't looked after, especially when they're younger and not yet in the school system. Andi think his plan for doing that is is incredible. And for elder care, um, which is very important and disproportionately women are taking care of elderly dependents. So I think he's a really important issues, and I'm truthfully, I'm very excited that they were so well received with so many Republican lawmakers. So I'm hopeful that this really pushes the needle in a major direction on how important the race is on how high the stakes are. It's been struggling a lot of people. How much of the conversation last week has been your father's accusation that it's rigged? Do you believe that this election is rigged? I will tell you that the media has been vicious, and look, there's a lot of business people in the room. We've all had articles written about us by the business press that we're hearing from. You know, that wasn't exactly there. You know the fact check. There's a few things off, but, um, you know, this has been this has been a different level I had and you know, we look, we take it personally. Obviously there's something said that are deeply personal, but just, you know, and on a less emotional example this week are the In the last couple of days I saw on the front cover of The New York Times a story talking about how the Trump brand was being decimated due to the campaign. Our team had provided statistics as it relates to our hotel company, for example, showing traffic patterns and actual analytics and data. They insisted on using quote from random people. I have no idea where they called. They chose to use a booking engine that represented a total last year of 16 bookings, but they didn't say that. They said the decrease in bookings This booking engine, which doesn't typically book at luxury hotels and across the we have so many hotels. We have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands room, not a year. And they took a company that booked 16 room nights with us and didn't say that, but instead said that our bookings went down 38% last year, and we told them we said that this isn't a relevant metric, They only did 16 room that they're not. They're not. It's not media, you know. This is not a relevant metric by which to judge her performance. We gave them the facts. All they had from us wasn't a quote where we actually shared the facts of our performance. They had a quote that we think this is a mischaracterization of our business is doing. And they didn't mention the lack of volume that this provides very, you know, it is demoralizing when you're working very hard and you have teams who are working tremendously hard to to read these type of things. So I think that the bias is very, very real. And I don't think I would have sent us to you even a year ago. I don't, but I just I've seen it too many times. It's tremendous. They obviously the Trump brand all along has been very much about winning, and I understand that you hope and expect your father win. Do you think it's important for the country and for democracy? For him to concede if he loses on, will he? Well, look, my father is in this to win it, and you know I'm I'm not interested in talking about alternative. How comes? And of course, I think my father will always do the right thing. That's the type of person he is. Um, but But when you asked me before, do I think it's rigged? I think from a media perspective, it's very hard to get an accurate portrayal of who he is as a person or the business. These bills is professional accomplishment. It borderline impossible in large parts. We've stopped even trying with a lot of the mainstream publications because they just don't. You know, I was going crazy around a year ago, calling these reporters, trying to get them to at least hear our perspective. And it's just a waste of time. You fall down such a rabbit hole with us, and it doesn't yield the results. But but to your point, if he'll either win or he won't win, and I believe he'll accept the outcome, Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.