As the top-rated female business news anchor, Liz Claman is living her dream. At the same time, the FOX Business Network host is active in philanthropy and passing on these values to her two teenagers, Gabby, 16, and Julian, 13. We sat down with her to discuss being a woman in the spotlight and parenting teenagers today.
How do you deal with nasty online comments as a woman in media?
When my children were younger I had to ban them from Googling me. There were a plethora of comments on [my body]. That didn’t bother me because since the beginning of time people have commented on others’ looks. However, it has gone so far as anonymous people photoshopping my photos. They cut my head off and put it on a different body having a wardrobe malfunction or showing nudity. I stopped trying a long time ago to get that scrubbed from the web because the more you try, the worse it gets. That stuff has actually hurt me from getting opportunities in the past because people think it’s real.
What do you think the workplace is like for young women today?
My niece said she feels like she has to be an “alpha female” if she is going to make it in the working world, but also this softer creature if she is going to have men in powerful positions consider her for a higher promotion. That saddened me. I have been a member of the Feminist Majority Foundation for decades. For me, being a true feminist means we should be gender-blind in the working world, and people should be judged on their merit only. That is still not realistic today.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, my dad would say my sisters and I didn’t need a man to strengthen ourselves—that we should just do what we wanted to do in life, and a relationship would come. He was absolutely right.
On top of your role as a journalist, you are also an involved philanthropist. How did you get involved with Building Homes for Heroes?
I was reading an article in the New York Times about the first U.S. soldier to survive losing all four limbs in the Iraq/Afghanistan war. The article mentioned a group that was building a custom home for him. I offered to help them, and they asked me to emcee their gala.
How do you pass this concept of philanthropy on to your children?
Philanthropy for children is not easy. I brought Gabrielle, my daughter, to a home presentation about a year after I started working with Building Homes for Heroes. As I was bringing her in the car, I said she was going to meet some people who have lost fingers or can’t walk. I said, “I want you to reach out your hand and shake theirs. I want you to look them directly in their eyes even if it looks scary to you.” That is the beginning of philanthropy. It’s not just writing a check but showing up, hugging these people.
How does your professional focus on business and investing impact how you teach your own children the value of money?
When they asked for something, I would say, “Let’s figure out how many hours at minimum wage it would take to make enough money to buy that.” I would make them calculate how hard someone would have to work to purchase that. I’d say, “Once you calculate that, do you really still feel that you need that? I know you want it, but do you need it?” It makes them stop and think and take stock of immediate gratification.
What kind of a parent are you?
Imperfect, but perfect in my attempts. As far as I’m concerned, we are born as parents with two piles: a pile of yeses and a pile of nos. If you use up all the nos too early, when you are ready to say yes, your kids will have been long gone. They won’t listen. And if you use up all your yeses too early, they won’t listen when you say no. So I balance.
Interview by Susan Borison