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Outspoken billionaire Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments Inc., raised eyebrows during a Wednesday investor conference about gender diversity and the #MeToo movement after the real estate mogul was asked if he has promoted women based on merit, and then used a bizarre phrase to demonstrate he "gets it."

“I never promoted a woman because she was a woman. I never demoted a woman because she was a woman. My issue is what do you do, what do you produce, how do you interrelate to the rest of the business,” Zell said quoted by Bloomberg during the Manhattan REITweek conference, before adding: 

"I don’t think there’s ever been a, "We gotta get more pussy on the block, OK?" Those things can get me in trouble, right?"

Zell's comment reportedly elicited "gasps and laughter" from the audience, after which Steven Wechsler, president and CEO of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts followed up by saying "If I said that, I'd be in more trouble." Then again, Zell - well-known for his coarse, raspy commentary - gets a "get out of jail" card.

Zell has a history of provocative statements, including using the f-word and other vulgarities during panel discussions and live television interviews. In a Bloomberg TV interview in March, he said in passing that “all women are good looking.”

Of course, unlike Weinstein and virtually every other Hollywood hypocrite, who speaks in dignified, refined terms but is a monster behind the scenes, in this case Zell is just your cranky, foul-mouthed  but well-meaning grandpa. His Equity LifeStyle Properties, has a female CEO, Marguerite Nader, and Ventas Inc. CEO Debra Cafaro has credited Zell with encouraging her over the course of her career.