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Interviews with Matt Damon and Gary White of Water.org; Interview with Lorren Bonner. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired July 9, 2018 - 17:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Coming up, megastar, Matt Damon on surprising location in Indonesia where he's trying to solve the global
clean water crisis one microloan at a time. He joins me with his co- founder of Water.org, Gary White. Plus from the wellspring of Hollywood, the Me Too Movement has swept the globe, but the Ivory Tower of finance has
been relatively unscathed. Is this it's moment? I speak to Lauren Bonner who's suing her very Wall Street firm.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Listen to this shocking statistic, as many as 100 million people in India
won't have adequate access to groundwater in just two years' time. That shocker comes from a recent government-sponsored study and it is just one
side of a growing global crisis. In Iran, protests have recently broken out over water shortages. In Argentina, a drought had caused the economy
to shrink for the first time in more than a year. A South Africa, a severe water shortage has led to rationing in the picturesque city of Cape Town.
One of the efforts to tackle this crisis comes from an unlikely source, the Hollywood mega star Matt Damon. He's been dedicated to this vital matter
since 2009 working with the long-time water policy pioneer, Gary White, and together, they started Water.org. It's no typical charity as Damon and
White explained from Jakarta in Indonesia where much of their efforts are concentrated now.
Matt Damon, Gary White, welcome to the program.
GARY WHITE, CEO, CO-FOUNDER, WATER.ORG: Thank you.
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So we're reaching you all the way over in Jakarta, in Indonesia. Matt, just start out by telling me what a Hollywood mega star is doing on
location with water in Jakarta?
DAMON: Well, we're here checking up on some of our programs and actually when you talk to us about our work in 2011 I think it was, actually, we
were at about -- I think we've reached -- we haven't reached our first million people at that point in New York when we sat down and talked. And
as of last month, we're 12.5 million people that we've reached. And oddly enough at that same event that you came to New York where we all sat down
and talked, we got a check that night from the Caterpillar Foundation to expand our work into Indonesia, and so it's kind of wonderfully ironic that
we're talking to you from there as we talk about this again and revisit this 6.5 years later.
AMANPOUR: So listen, it's great to hear some good news.
DAMON: Yeah, yes.
AMANPOUR: Progress is being made. Just some up for me what you're trying to do, you're reaching 12.5 million people, Matt, what is it that you're
trying to do?
DAMON: Well, what we've been trying to do for the last decade or so is a model that involves loaning, giving small loans to people who are living in
poverty. And Gary had this incredible insight from having done this for 30 years and he had this hypothesis that living in this -- being in these
communities, he knew people were paying for water and he speculated that if we could just get people access to a microloan to connect to an existing
infrastructure, they could actually pay that loan back and buy their time back essentially. So rather than have to spend all this time collecting
water away from perhaps a paying job, they could actually have a water connection directly to their house.
And what actually came to pass was it's kind of -- it's something better that we even could have hoped, these loans pay off at more 99 percent and
it's just really a success story.
AMANPOUR: So Gary, these microloans, we've heard a lot about microcredit really since the early days of Muhammad Yunus in the Grameen Bank. Is it
like that, so that you're not giving charity, you're encouraging sort of investment, in a way equity?
WHITE: That's it exactly. The challenge was microfinance was it wasn't making these loans for water and sanitation. It would make a loan for
somebody to start a business, but they wouldn't -- the microfinance institutions would not lend for water and toilet construction. And so what
we did was kind of gave them a nudge and kind of derisk it for them.
So we said, "We'll cover your cost to start up these types of loans and if you find the market, then you can go to scale with this. And that's
exactly what's happened. We have about 90 partners around the world now that are delivering these microloans to people in need of water and
sanitation. More than 90 percent of them are women and they back at this 99 percent rate.
And I think one way to really drive it home was a woman who I met in Manila not long ago and she was going to water vendors and sending her kids to
these water vendors to buy their water and carry it back home. They are paying about $60 each month for that water. She got a small loan, she got
connected to the water utility, so she couldn't afford the $200 it cost to connect to the utility, but once she got the loan, she could do that. And
her loan payments and her water bill now are only $10 a month. So you can see right there, there's another $50 in her pocket every month to pay for
her kids to go to school, pay for the medicines that they need and the kids aren't spending this time, so they can be in school learning instead of
continuing on the cycle of poverty.
AMANPOUR: According to the UN, 27 million Indonesians lack access to safe drinking water. So just explain both of you how you internalize that, how
you observe that affecting the everyday man, woman and child?
WHITE: So we just saw it first hand, right? We saw the villages that we're in where people, before they were able to get access to these loans,
they were spending hours everyday trying to secure their water.
DAMON: Yeah and there are some situations that are even more dire than that where girls aren't in school because their job for the family is to
collect the water. And so they're completely robbed. I mean leaving aside the fact that a million children die a year totally unnecessarily because
of lack of access to safe water and sanitation. You've got this whole other swat of millions upon millions of girls whose lives are just kind of
stamped out, they're just not allowed to live to their full potential because their daily grind is just finding the water for their family.
And we just went to this school here in Indonesia and there were 150 girls there and we had the best afternoon with them and talking to them and you
just see, you know, how their lives have transformed. And so when you see that kind of transformational effect that getting this access has, it
really does -- it just really lights the fire under us to kind of keep this going and to get out and to try to talk about this and the success that
this model has because the World Bank has identified 500 million people around the world who could be -- who could be reached with this model. I
mean that is a real chunk of the problem right there that that can be -- that can be fixed if we can get the capital in to the right places.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder what you both think about the -- when we introduced this segment, we talked about protest in Iran over water. We talked about
chronic drought in Afghanistan that could get worst. We talked about Cape Town South Africa where people are lining up in this tourist city just to
get water. The environment, in the United States, you see the EPA, there are big crises with protections for clean water being rolled back under the
current administration. And there are those who believe that the water crisis could be the progenitor even more for conflict and war and the like.
I wonder your reflections on the bigger issue of water, Matt and then Gary.
DAMON: As you say, this is a massive kind of geopolitical issue. But the poorest of the poor are always affected the most by these things. And so
if you imagine, you know, if you extrapolate that out to the next 20, the next 40 years, I mean, what does that look like for them if this kind of
dystopia you're talking about comes to be? So I think that's my kind of first takeaway from your question, yeah.
AMANPOUR: And then Gary.
WHITE: Most of the world that's going to be facing that type of issue is going to have the resources to deal with it and that's going to happen. It
won't be easy, but it will happen. But what we look like is, you know, we had conversations with Dr. Jim Kim in the World Bank and he's like saying,
you know, we have a really hard time finding how to reach those last 10 to 15 percent of the poor. And that's why we're working with the bank and the
IFC to bring these types of solutions that help us get to some of the poorest people.
AMANPOUR: So it is really important. I just want to ask a Hollywood question to you, Matt, because you are the face of this and you're able to
bring so much to it to Gary's work. And obviously, you know, the whole Me Too women's empowerment started with Hollywood to an extent and obviously
your career took off with support from Harvey Weinstein. I just wonder in the six or so months, eight months since all of this broke, how do you
think Hollywood is coping, reacting and stepping up when it comes to women's rights and equal treatment under, you know, fair play in Hollywood?
DAMON: Yeah, I mean, yes I am all for women's empowerment, you know, in Hollywood and at the village of (INAUDIBLE) Indonesia. That's a big part
of this work that we do. I mean I've certainly learned that just because somebody asked me a question and gives me a microphone, it doesn't mean
that it's my turn to talk. And so I've been trying to listen a lot and I support those movements and think they're doing wonderful things.
But in terms of -- you know, this is what, if we talk about our work at Water.org, like that is something that I do want to talk about and I'm
deeply -- you know we've been doing this for -- I mean I've been doing it for over a decade and he's been doing it for over three and it's a great
story because it's about women who really have less than we could imagine in the West who are doing this really amazing and heroic things.
AMANPOUR: What was it that caused you all the way over in Hollywood to be energized by this water crisis? What is it that made you think this was
where you wanted to put your philanthropy and your sort of social entrepreneurship?
DAMON: You know, we solve this in the West a hundred years ago. Imagine if we cured cancer tomorrow and in a hundred years, people were still dying
by the millions of this thing that was totally preventable. And so I think that's what gets us energized and then also the success that we're having.
WHITE: I think what I take heart is like the poor are the root of the solution. This problem contains its own solution. If we can just nudge
the system a little bit so people can get access to these affordable loans, then that can be the first step in lifting themselves out of poverty.
AMANPOUR: And I think that's a really important message for this time particularly when people seem not to want to deal with the poor and resent
charity. So I think this is a really good message. And I'm glad I've been on this journey at least for the last several years with you. Thank you so
much for joining us from Jakarta.
WHITE: Thank you.
DAMON: Thank you. Thanks.
AMANPOUR: Now to a different crisis facing women, the Me Too Movement has toppled once untouchable Hollywood stars, journalists and business moguls.
No industry seems immune, no individual too big to fall, yet amid all the public accusations, the finance sector has managed to maintain a fairly low
Well, that changed earlier this year after Lauren Bonner, an associate director at one of Wall Street's most prominent firms filed a claim against
her company alleging widespread sexual discrimination. The case has earned her the nickname, the face of Me Too on Wall Street, but her firm Point72
has vehemently denied any accusation of wrongdoing. I spoke to Lauren Bonner about her lawsuit from New York.
Lauren Bonner, welcome to the program.
LAUREN BONNER, HEAD OF LATENT ANALYTICS, POINT72: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So let's start if you can by summing up the nature of your lawsuit.
BONNER: I filed because Point72 is engaging in systemic gender discrimination and harassment. And it's not just me. I'm being paid $0.35
on the dollar, my female colleagues are being paid $0.35 or other pennies on the dollar and I just felt a real obligation to stand up and say
AMANPOUR: So how did you find this out? I mean are salaries public? Did you know what your other, you know, male colleagues were being paid?
BONNER: Salaries are not public. I have access to the data as part of my role, so I see -- I see date both about some of the salaries on my team as
well as things like female candidates coming right out of college have to have 20 to 25 percent higher GPAs and SAT scores than their male colleagues
to exactly the same job. And so seeing that kind of data and seeing that it was just pervasive and institutional, I really felt like I had to say
AMANPOUR: And when you started to say something, what was the reaction? Who did you take your complaints to?
BONNER: I took it to virtually everyone. I took it to HR. I took it to my manager. I took it to our COO and President. I tried to present the
data more holistically to the leadership team, but our General Counsel prevented me from doing so.
AMANPOUR: On what grounds?
BONNER: They just didn't feel comfortable with my presenting the data. From my perspective, you know, you start wherever you are, you look at the
data, I tend to be a very data-driven person, I like to just understand where we are and make progress from there. Their view was to shield
leadership from the data.
AMANPOUR: And let's just put it quite clearly, you were rejected for a promotion as you've complained and this, on the back of your building, this
rather innovative piece of technology for the company to use.
BONNER: That's exactly right. I also think I was subject to what so many women on Wall Street are subject to which is a kind of catch 22 where to
build an innovative technology platform, you can't -- yeah, Hot House Petunia, you know, you have to be assertive and make things happen. But on
the flipside being assertive is really -- you get penalized for that in a way that men do not.
AMANPOUR: And is that the basis of the harassment claims, were there any other claims? You know, you've talked about the institutionalized
discrimination in terms of pay, et cetera, but you've also talked about other attitudes. Describe a few that you encountered at Point72.
BONNER: Absolutely. There's, you know, having a male colleague offer up his assistant for sex as if she is his property and no one thinks to say
that's not okay. And he obviously believes that that's something that he can offer.
AMANPOUR: Lauren, I'm horrified. I've never heard such a thing, what does mean offering up an assistant for sex, to who, with whose permission?
BONNER: In my presence, he turned to another male colleague, pointed at his assistant and said, "Do you want to F her? You can. She works for
AMANPOUR: Oh my God. Did this assistant hear that?
BONNER: She did. She was standing right there and so was I.
AMANPOUR: Did she say anything?
BONNER: No, what can a woman say? I mean it's so degrading, degrading for her, it's degrading for me.
AMANPOUR: Did you?
BONNER: I wish I had at the moment. I honestly stood there with my mouth on the floor.
AMANPOUR: Wow. And you've also talked about unseemly words being, you know, attached to white boards in various high-level offices.
BONNER: Sure, the President's office, he had the word "pussy" written up on his white board. You sat there in meetings with the President and the
word "pussy" floating above him, his glass office, so anyone can see it walking by, many people had meetings in that office, it went on for weeks
and really no one -- no one thought to tell him that was not okay. And I for one, reported some of these things, but it's intimidating.
AMANPOUR: And is that -- is it designed to intimidate or is it just, you know, old boy network culture?
BONNER: It's hard for me to say what their mental state is in terms of why something would be on the board like that. It's confounding to me why
someone would put that on the board.
AMANPOUR: It sounds just unbelievable. I mean I believe you, but it sounds incredible. So let me just ask you this as well then, you know,
before accepting your job at Point72, you obviously knew who Steve Cohen was, right, he was quite controversial. He had had a fall at his previous
venture, SAC Capital. I guess what made you take a job with him and are you aware of his power and what is -- are you worried about taking him on
now through the legal system?
BONNER: Well, I don't think it's -- I of course knew his history. That said, I don't think it's naive to believe that in 2018, a high-performing
premier firm can respect women. That doesn't seem crazy to me. It's terrifying to take on kind of intimidating bully, but I really feel like I
have no choice. I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't come forward. There's this great moment right now and if we don't say anything,
AMANPOUR: And you are still there, that's an amazing thing in it of itself. I mean haven't resigned, you haven't quit and obviously they
presumably can't fire you while you're filing this lawsuit. Why are you still there and are you getting lots of support from inside the four walls
of your company particularly from the women?
BONNER: Well look, I keep showing up, I'll keep showing up until they tell me otherwise. I am getting quite a bit of support. I feel like I'm living
a little bit of a double life. During the day, at work, I feel pretty isolated and it's obviously quite an icy environment. But in the evenings,
I then tend to hear from a lot of women offering support, sharing their stories, thanking me for what I'm doing. And so it's an interesting kind
of two lives that I'm living.
AMANPOUR: And tell me something, beyond Point72, from all your colleagues and friends who you must have in the world of finance, is this sort of
industry wide, is it a problem in the Wall Street culture?
BONNER: It's a good question. It's certainly an issue that plagues Wall Street. That being said I don't think it's universal. I certainly have
been at other premier institutions where leaders operate with integrity and respect and this kind of thing doesn't happen. I think that's part of why
I felt empowered to be able to come forward because I have seen other places. I have seen that it doesn't have to be this way.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you then a general question about women in finance. The famous saying goes, in fact, it was the leader of the IMF,
herself a woman, Christine Lagarde who suggested, "What might have been the result at Lehman Brothers had it been called Lehman Sisters?" In other
words if there were all, you know, big companies run by women or at least many more women equally represented in the highest echelons of power, what
can you say about that?
BONNER: Well, studies have shown that women manage and think about risk very differently. So I agree that we may not have seen the same kind of
crisis that we did because I do think women bring a different kind of view of risk. And that's why gender parity is not charity. It's good business,
study after study shows that women are equally as good, if not better investors are men.
AMANPOUR: And women of course who, you know, are professionals in this business and many others and then who decide to have children, many, many
instances and there's recently been a big expose by the New York Times basically show that after the first child even if women and men were being
paid equally up to then, the women's salary takes a major dent and almost never recovers. Do you find that in your business? And again, what sort
of affect does that have on women wanting to stay, wanting to climb up the ladder and getting to the very top?
BONNER: Absolutely I see it. The New York Times did a beautiful job with that piece. It's a story that definitely needs to be told. Women come
back from maternity leave with their responsibilities cut, being side lined, being marginalized. I see it all the time. It's particularly
extreme at Point72 and it doesn't have to be that way, but I see it all the time.
AMANPOUR: You've taken this very bold stance and you've talked about the Me Too moment and if not now, when. And are you planning to help more
women? In other words, are you going to expand your area of activism in this regard? What are your plans for the future?
BONNER: Yes definitely. I've been inspired and empowered and have gotten so much renewed courage from the leaders of Time's Up who have been really
generous in helping me start to think about how do we bring this movement to Wall Street in a meaningful way. I think women in finance are now
seeing that there is a real moment that we can't wait for the cavalry, that we need to be the cavalry for ourselves. And so I'm very hopeful that we
can kind of stand up, speak out and support each other and bring some of that incredible, meaningful impact that you've seen in other industries to
AMANPOUR: And just finally, what is the status of your case, does it go to trial? Is there a timeline? Do we know what the whole legal procedure is
going to look like?
BONNER: I'm awaiting the judge's decision on Point72's motion to compel arbitration, arbitration as you well know is just another way of silencing
AMANPOUR: So obviously Point72 has already reacting to your charges. What is your reaction to their reaction?
BONNER: I'm in no way surprised. I think it's a page right out of Harvey Weinstein's playbook to deny, discredit, shame and blame me and I think it
speaks to how antiquated and out of touch this boy's club is.
AMANPOUR: Lauren Bonner, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
BONNER: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Now, since our interview, a judge has granted Point72 its motion to have the case heard in arbitration. And we of course asked the hedge
fund to respond to Bonner's allegations. They said that Bonner's claims were quote "False" or based on unsubstantiated hearsay and that Ms. Bonner
never brought her claim to the attention of her management until she demanded a $13 million pay out after only 18 months of employment that was
We went back to Bonner and her lawyer to ask about that allegation and they charged in return that Point72 made a "Seven-figure offer to resolve
Bonner's claims and indicated it would pay millions more before attempting to discredit Ms. Bonner's allegations with boiler plate defenses used to
attack female employees who assert gender discrimination claims." Point72 then admitted to us that they did offer Bonner a million dollars to end the
matter but said Bonner rejected the offer.
The firm went on to say that Bonner is trying to denigrate their firm in the media and is making "Outrageous claims without providing any evidence
to back them up." Point72 said that it was well aware that women are under-represented in finance, a problem that the firm has long tried to
address with "A series of comprehensive initiatives." The firm said that Bonner worked on a diversity initiative as part of her role, but "Instead
of working with us constructively to advance to goals of diversity and inclusion, she chose to file this self-serving lawsuit." And so the case
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com and you can follow me on
Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.