Diving right in, let's talk a bit about your book, The Vanity Fair Diaries. What were your experiences as a powerful woman who was, from a very young age, working and being an incredibly influential voice in the media world? I'd then like to delve into the financial part of things—becoming an editor of the U.K. society glossy, Tatler, at 25 and move from there.
Well, I had my break very early in my career. Because I was glad as a young 25-year-old to be given such breaks, I tended not to negotiate with any particular beady-eyed thoughts of the future, as one doesn't when one is very young.
Then when I was brought to the U.S., again, it was a huge break at the age of 29, to be the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. I was given a salary of $120,000, which was fifteen times the one I made in the U.K., so it seemed like a huge amount of money, but without my even thinking about the expense of Manhattan. ...And indeed, it was a very good start salary at the time.
What changed, of course, was that after three years I had turned it around and turned it into a juggernaut hit, yet I was still being paid the same amount, with a few little incremental raises. That's when I began to start asking myself whether I was paid the right amount, because I was mixing with the media crowd and found they were being paid four times that amount.
Did you hear anything about your male counterparts?
Yes, I did. First of all, after three or four years, when I turned the thing around, the chairman of Conde Nast, S.I. Newhouse, called me in and said, "You’ve done absolutely marvelous, congratulations and we’d like to give you a raise. We are going to raise your salary by $14,000." And I remember thinking: "Why not $20,000, at least? What's this $14,000 all about?" But, of course, what did I do? I didn’t say, "That's great, but I’d like to be recognized for what I'm doing."
Do you think that had to do with being a woman?
Well, that's what I'd say. The fact is that that’s what he offered, and typical of being a woman, actually, I said: "Thank you very much. That’s great," but I walked away feeling slightly puzzled.
Then I learned that [a male editor at Conde Nast] who was doing much less well than I was, in terms of what he faced coming in and turning it around, was paid about $50,000 more than I was, and I became extremely aggravated.