I’m miffed again about Marissa Mayer. The Yahoo CEO sparked online rage this week after announcing Yahoo would no longer allow employees to work from home. Last year, she pissed people off by announcing in a way that sounded rather cavalier that she would take “a couple weeks” maternity leave. I blogged, at the time, about how her comments made it seem like she didn’t understand that the transition to motherhood is more than just learning how to wipe a butt (which women like Mayer can farm out.)
I actually feel kind of bad for Mayer — as the world’s most prominent CEO/New Mom she’s got to be under tremendous scrutiny to prove herself in a thousand ways, and it must feel like a minefield. But whether she’d wished to be this or not, she’s the Working Mom In Power, who everyone is looking at right now, and she’s handling it badly, over and over. I don’t know the right answer for Yahoo! in terms of work flexibility arrangements (and some online have suggested that flex time was abused within the company and/or that the scheme is a way for Yahoo! to achieve mass layoffs without having to do a public reduction in force), but a blanket ban on working from home seems outdated and monolithic in response.
This isn’t just about mothers, it’s about all parents, and to be expansive, it’s about all workers. Flexibility can be abused, for sure, but it can also allow workers to do better, cleaner, more efficient work and be happy with their lives. As long as it’s managed well. And what we expect in a CEO is excellent management skills, right?
But it gets worse. Apparently, Ms. Mayer paid to have a nursery built into her office during her maternity leave. This way, she can see her baby when she needs to, without having to work from home. How nice for her! She’s so lucky to work for a company where that kind of work-life flexibility is considered importa— oh. Wait.
Somehow I’m doubting she’s about to unveil Yahoo’s plan to provide on-site nurseries with childcare for the rest of its employees. Everyone is a hypocrite sometimes, but this example is pretty egregious.
It’s a shame; I was hoping she’d use this position and the timing of her motherhood as an opportunity to lead.