Ivanka Trump Wants To Talk Business, Not Politics

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images.
Ivanka Trump is visibly upset. The 33-year-old daughter of real-estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has just wrapped up an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow. Clearly, Ivanka's not happy about how things went. That’s not so surprising: She has an agenda for her time at the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, and talking politics is not at the top of her list. Unfortunately, this year’s conference is taking place in Washington, D.C., and politics is about the only thing anyone wants to talk about.

Ivanka might be Donald’s daughter, but she certainly didn’t inherit his short temper and belligerent ways, at least not in public. After a conversation between her publicist and Harlow’s producers, things seem calmer, and the final version of the interview, which aired Wednesday evening, is nothing but friendly and polished — it appears that Ivanka got what she wanted.

With that settled, she turns her attention to the next interview, gamely standing in a crowded hallway and declaring her love for Refinery29. She’s moved on from whatever upset her. The focus now: her work at Trump International (she’s an executive vice president of acquisition and development, overseeing some of the company’s most high-profile deals) and her own growing business, the Ivanka Trump Collection. Last fall, she launched her own website, IvankaTrump.com, along with the campaign #WomenWhoWork.

“[My website] is a response to the caricature that persists in pop culture of what it looks like to be a working woman, which is typically very one-dimensional,” she says, describing a billboard she remembers seeing on Park Avenue with a 5-foot-11 redhead in a black pantsuit. “That’s not relatable. That’s not what a working woman looks like. It was created by some 70-year-old male ad executive trying to sell women’s workwear apparel.”

Ivanka herself is a 5-foot-11 model, but she manages to come across as relatable. Though she might not be interested in politics, she definitely has some progressive views on women in the workplace. And she recognizes the power she has to change the narrative.

That’s not what a working woman looks like.

The Apprentice gave me a vehicle and some personal exposure,” she says, explaining what inspired her to launch her clothing line and website. “This has really become a mission for me to talk about, celebrate, and embrace the fact that we’re all working very hard to create the lives we want to live.”

Last year, when Fortune named Ivanka one of its “40 Under 40,” Caroline Fairchild’s profile focused on the workplace revolution she’s starting. She offers her employees unlimited vacation and sick time, and flexible work schedules are very important to her.

“In my own business, I’m trying to create a culture that truly embraces women and the roles we play both in our family lives and our business lives,” she says, noting that her mother worked during an era when women were reluctant to discuss their personal lives on the job, as it was seen as a liability. With technology allowing employees to work practically 24/7, Ivanka argues, there’s no work life or home life, it’s just one life.

The Trump International heiress is very open about her struggles to manage a family and her high-powered career. She might have all the resources in the world, but she’s taking a very hands-on approach to raising her children, making sure to be home most evenings in time to feed, bathe, and put her two children (Arabella, age 4, and Joseph, age 2) to bed. She scoffs at the idea of work-life balance, mentioning multiple times that she doesn’t get much sleep.

“I hate the concept of balance. You can’t plan for balance. You’re one flu away from losing your balance.”

The other thing she’s not so keen on: companies that don’t make meritocracy a priority. Sure, she recognizes that she’s gotten so far in her career because of her father’s name — Ivanka is very self-aware — but she also works incredibly hard (legend has it, she was in Miami making a deal to buy the Doral Resort & Spa just a week after her daughter was born). And she thinks her dad is a good boss, calling him an unbelievable father and leader. (She went so far as to tell Harlow that his presidency would be good for women.)

“My father has been an amazing advocate for women at the highest echelons of his company back at a time when not many other people were doing it,” she says. “[He’s] done that my whole life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I wouldn’t have confidence, I wouldn’t have conviction, I wouldn’t have the spirit and attitude, if he hadn’t encouraged me, if he hadn’t pushed me to realize my dreams. And the Trump Organization gave me a platform to do so.”

My father has been an amazing advocate for women.

Ivanka certainly faces different challenges than most working women, though, who aren’t a brand unto themselves. Her unique position might explain her close relationship with Chelsea Clinton. The media has made much of their friendship lately, with their parents being potential rivals in the 2016 election, but Ivanka is quick to brush off any tension it might cause.

“The politics of our parents are not relevant to our friendship,” she says.

Indeed, the two seem to have more similarities than differences, as both were quite young when they had to deal with the fallout from their fathers’ affairs. (Ivanka was just 10 when her parents went through an extremely messy, extremely public divorce.) They both might be saddled with very famous names (and are employed by the family business), but they’re very smart and driven. Maybe the media should focus on a Clinton-Trump ticket in the future. Chelsea and Ivanka would make one hell of a political powerhouse.

In the meantime, Ivanka is focused on supporting women and her growing family along with her business: She’s pregnant with her third child with her husband, real-estate developer Jared Kushner. After a whirlwind morning in D.C., she flew back to New York to spend the evening with her family, sharing an Instagram of a cake she baked for her son’s second birthday. It’s a wonder that she had the energy to prepare something after a full morning in D.C., and some Instagram commenters expressed skepticism that she actually baked it. But if there’s a mom out there who is able to speak in front of hundreds of this country’s most powerful women, hop from interview to interview, deflect awkward questions about her outspoken and divisive dad, and then fly home in time to bake, it’s Ivanka. And she’s doing it in a pair of her leopard-print pumps while five months’ pregnant. She might be Donald Trump’s daughter, but she’s her own success story.

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