A Blog series by Elise Misse

Blog #11

The Wit and Wisdom of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Like many – including, I’m sure, the majority of people reading this – I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last weekend. I have discussed previously how much of an influence and inspiration this astonishing woman was to me over the years.

Perhaps more importantly though, Ruth was more than just a niche figure that appealed to particular segment of society. Her message resonated with men and women alike, as well as crossing generations. After all, she earned the affectionate nickname, “The Notorious R.B.G” later in her career, which she embraced!

This is not a time to mourn the passing of an iconic woman, though. Rather, I would prefer to celebrate Ruth’s life and legacy. Here are six of my personal favourite quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and how I feel they remain relevant in the corporate world of 2020.

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”

What is it to, “be a lady” in the workplace? There are fundamental differences between women and men, and these should be embraced, not swept under the rug.

Regardless of our chromosomes, we are all only on this planet once and for a finite amount of time. We owe it to ourselves, and those that love us, to be true to ourselves and embrace who we are – striving to achieve the greatness that is within the grasp of us all. This is surely the key to personal success and happiness.

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”

Life rarely turns out the way that we planned. Dealing with adversity – especially if we can turn setbacks into springboards – is a great way to live.

Ruth faced numerous obstacles, especially toward the end of her life when her health began to fail. Despite this, she refused to lie down and give up. She simply adjusted her perspective accordingly. We should all seek to follow this example.

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Has a more powerful but effective statement ever been uttered? It is a fallacy to claim that there are particular locations where men or women belong.

When important discussions are taking place, there are no men and women. Just decision-makers that have earned their place at the table and deserve to have their voices heard. Gender has no bearing on this and is certainly no grounds for exclusion.

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

I have often talked about the difference between managing and leadership. It is critical that, to persuade others to join our cause and fight for a better future, we approach change in a constructive way.

Passion is not a character flaw, and there is certainly nothing wrong with fighting for what we believe in. We just need to remember, especially in the age of social media, that shouting for the rooftops is often less effective than one-on-one persuasion. As the old adage goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

“If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”

This is a subject very close to my heart. I am blessed with a partner that is supportive and understands the importance of sharing the burden of, “invisible work” at home. I fear that not everybody is quite so lucky.

This support network is every bit as important at home as it is in the workplace, though. In the age of COVID-19, where the whole world has been turned upside down, it is arguably even more so.

“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”

Perhaps this is the most important message of all. No matter how much we wish for it, we will never live in a utopia. Nobody will ever have things exactly the way they like them, at all times. We are responsible for our own happiness and success, though. The onus is on us to focus on the positive and be the change that we want to see in the world.

As you’ll see, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a great orator. Her lessons, and legacy, will live long in the memory and continue to provide motivation for generations to come.

If you’ll forgive me squeezing in one additional quote, I feel this one is particularly relevant –

“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”

I feel comfortable in saying that Ruth’s memory will live on, and she will be remembered as one of the most iconic and important figures of our lifetime. In this regard, she achieved her ambitions.


About LEAD Network Europe

The LEAD Network Europe is a non-profit and volunteer-led organisation whose mission is to attract, retain, and advance women in the consumer products and retail sector in Europe through education, leadership, and business development. The LEAD Network is run by and for its members, women and men, and we value every individual for their unique perspective. With a primary focus on promoting gender equality the organisation strives for the advancement of women of every race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, educational background, national origin, religion, physical ability and lifestyle. Its vision is of a fair, diverse and vibrant industry where everyone can thrive. A diverse workforce where both men and women are enabled to contribute their full potential and lead their organisations to the next level of value creation. LEAD Network accounts for 18,000+ members – both women and men – from 81 countries.

For more information, please visit www.lead-eu.net