Lessons from powerful women on how to do what’s right.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

The huge and polarized response to Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean in” got us thinking about strong women. We at EIM love them. We may not always agree with them but can marketers ever learn from them. Can we all admit that many of us, even in this enlightened era, still gender stereotype? Let’s just pluck a few recent headlines…

“[Sheryl Sandberg] stunned the working world by saying she makes a point of leaving the office at 5:30 every day in order to eat dinner at home with her family.”  Replace “she” with “he” and would we have the same reaction?  Oh wait, a guy wouldn’t do that. Instead the old guy with the grimacing old wife puts himself on the I’m-a-Great- Family-Man pedestal buy saying he’s retiring early to be with his family. Dude, where were you 30 years ago, your family has moved on and is plotting which retirement home to dump you in.

What about Marissa Mayer (Yahoo! CEO) who famously banned home-based work, forcing people to actually schlep into the office and show their faces once in a while.  But let me ask you this:  if it was a guy, would Forbes.com have posted “Forget for a minute the amazing hubris of a rich, glamorous CEO, with a nursery specially built next to her office, ordering less well-compensated parents to trudge back to the office, leaving their less important offspring in daycare or in the hands of nannies.”  If a man did this it may have been interpreted as shrewd.  A woman…she’s stickin’ it to the moms.

Here’s the latest headline:  Did Marissa Mayer Spend $30 Million on 3 Employees and a License?” (courtesy of Mashable)  My tech-challenged brain lacks the ability to comprehend the value here; maybe it’s there, maybe it isn’t.  But are the headlines suggesting frivolity since a woman spent this money and not a man?

Okay, I’m not about to get all feminist (I am)…women’s lib (I support)… let’s call them person-hole covers (oh please) on you.  But we’d like to get beyond the sensational headlines and just spend a moment to celebrate strong, gutsy women in business.  Hats off to Marissa and Sheryl, let’s throw in Tina Fey, Michelle Obama, Oprah.  They are not going to please everyone, they are just doing what they believe in, what they think is right.  Same goes for your brand.