Men Should Practice Celebrating Women in Business

A review of Nancy Meyers’ film The Intern.

It’s a Saturday evening and I should be getting ready to go out on the town, but instead I’m in bed blogging for the the first time in over a year.

I feel full of sushi (literally) and thoughts after watching The Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 60% … Metascore: 51%

I usually use Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to determine whether a movie is worth watching. But in this case, I ignored the average rating in favour of my mom’s recommendation — thanks mom!

The film tells the story of 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker, played by De Niro, who has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an e-commerce fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (played by Hathaway).

The All-Too-Rare Film Character: A Powerful Businesswoman

Jules Ostin reminded me of my young and talented sister, Amy Johnson — who was recently promoted to Chief of Education at a growing online education company in Cape Town. Now I’m certainly not trying to imply that my sister likes to ride a bike around the office, or has the luxury of getting chauffeured around Cape Town by a retired VP of the Yellow Pages. But like Ostin (an all-too-rare character in film), my sister has done very well for herself professionally in a short space of time. It may not be entirely appropriate to play Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” right now but you get the idea.

Ostin is Meyer’s representation of what a powerful woman looks like in our society. She’s a business leader who knows what she’s doing without being stripped of her femininity. She’s a mother, a wife, and an executive.

I don’t want to make any black and white statements around this topic, but it was interesting to me that although Ostin had grown her booming Internet fashion startup out of her lounge to a 200 employee strong operation — her investors seemed to think a seasoned CEO (all of the candidates were men naturally) would maintain her company’s growth status.

We don’t ever find out whether the investors are men or women, but in my cynical imagination they were a bunch of suits predisposed to think that a women is not qualified to ensure her business ideas continue in an upward curve.

To get back to my heading that powerful women in business should be celebrated by men, De Niro’s character — a retired executive himself — is a delightful example of this. Not only does he encourage Ostin to hold on to her position as CEO because she is the best person for the job, but to be a confident business leader in the face of doubtful investors and judgemental pre-school moms (being a working mom doesn’t mean you’re incapable of making guacamole from scratch!)

Quentin Tarantino Liked It…

Interesting fact, despite getting slated by a few male dicks *cough* — I mean critics, Quentin Tarantino gave Meyer’s film a big thumbs up:

“One of my favourite movies this last year was Nancy Meyers’ The Intern. They’re not considering that for the Oscars even though I think Robert De Niro gave one of the best performances this year in that movie. I thought the script was actually one of her best.”

Take a Cue From Ben Whittaker

If you’re a successful man in business, you may have noticed that the C-suite is no longer a boy’s club and nor should it be! Celebrate, encourage and mentor the women joining the ranks. They had to prove themselves to get there — don’t disempower them by questioning their ability or qualification to lead.