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I have a splendid sign over my desk. It is bright pink with white letters: “All men are created equal … poor things.”

I have believed for years that women should not aspire to equality with men, nor should any minority aspire to equality with the “norm”. Women are better than that. So are blacks. So are Hispanics. So are all the other minorities.

Whenever I forget this little lesson in life, something seems to crop up to remind me. Most recently, I read an interview that BusinessWeekOnline conducted with Marianne Sensale-Guerin, the Small Business Administration’s Small Businessperson of the Year. In response to the question on why she thought the SBA chose her, Ms. Sensale-Guerin said, “…I think they looked closely at how I treat my employees. I pride myself on taking care of my employees – they have to have insurance, flexible hours, vacation time. We live in a world where you have both parents working, and as an employer, I’m very sensitive to those issues.”

And Ms. Sensale-Guerin’s goal? To be successful enough so that she can sell her business to her employees – they, then, could reap the benefits of their hard work while she retired.

How many employers have you ever worked for that were so sensitive to the present AND future needs of employees? How many employers even care?

No, I am very glad that women are not equal to men. Women bring a whole new perspective to the business world. And it’s about time.

I’m very glad, too, that we have managed to get past the early years of “women’s lib”. Back then I was one of the early members in the businesswomen’s association of Silicon Valley. I am sad to report that we once devoted an entire meeting to talking about what kind of scarf/tie to wear with our business suits: should it be soft and floppy, or short and stiff? Worse yet, the consensus was that it should be as much like a man’s tie as possible, so that we could “fit in.”

We’ve come a long way, baby. And it’s about time.

My grandmother was an entrepreneur before the word was invented, as yours may have been. Many women were left alone to fend for themselves and raise their families. My grandmother ran a gas station and managed a small farm, with two stickers on her window that she was immensely proud of: one from the Army, and one from Navy, each showing she had a son in their service. That was during WW II. She had raised those two sons herself with her gas station and small farm, and continued with both until her death a decade later.

I daresay that Grandma didn’t care about floppy scarves. She had more important things on her mind. And so should we.

We have families that need our guidance and love. We have communities that need our leadership and sensitivity. We have a world that can benefit immensely from the gifts that we, as businesswomen, can bring to it. And we have businesses that need … yes, a woman’s touch.

My other grandma raised her family by herself, too – 5 children and a disabled husband. She was a nurse, bless her heart. It is for her, and the legions like her that the modern women’s lib movement is meant to help most of all.

It is due to the armies of women in mid-20th century who fought for equal pay, better working conditions, child care, health insurance, Medicaid programs and work sharing that our part of the world has become such a better place.

We certainly haven’t won all of our battles. There is still a long way to go. But, my goodness, can you imagine what our world would be like if we had been like men? If we had simply put on suits and said, “Yes, sir.”

No, we opted to be different. We opted to represent the under-represented, the poor, the neglected. And more power to us for having tried. I will opt for the way of the turtle, slow and steady, so that as we win our wars, everyone will benefit.

There was a History channel program recently that showed Nazis proclaiming that US women could never help in the war effort because we couldn’t do anything more severe than dust a table. They didn’t know Rosie the Riveter, or you or me.

I celebrate our difference.

I will fight tooth and nail so that women and minorities don’t have to be equal to men.

Will you join me? It’s time.

Source by MaryAnn Shank

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