“Stop Working from Home,” says Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer
Last Friday, Yahoo! shocked and angered the masses when it issued an internal memo regarding a new policy that requires its employees who work remotely to relocate to company facilities or quit, effective June 2013. This effort is being spearhead by CEO, Marissa Mayer, and is expected to only affect a handful of workers who work from home full time. However, it is widely speculated that the new mandate will reach as far as those who have made previous arrangements to work from home only one or two days a week.
This is undoubtedly seen as a backwards move in time, especially given that Yahoo! is a global technology “innovator” based in progressive Silicon Valley and run by a new mom. “Dumb! Boneheaded! Proof of inexperience! Major disappointment!” commenters from around the web have been crying out all weekend. Many have cited the countless studies linking flexibility in the workplace to improved moral, productivity, and health, and they are not off base.
Business Insider shed some light on Mayer’s tough decision, citing management and productive issues. A source revealed that, “A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo.”The article also calls it a “…layoff that's not a layoff”, meaning that workers who chose not to comply will simply quit and trim some weight off “fat and lazy” tech giant.
Options like the ability to work remotely are attractive perks to top talent. Or, at least that was the case when PayScale.com conducted a “Top Tech Employer Comparison” in early 2012. According to their findings, “Along with stock options and a health club membership, Yahoo employees cited the ability to work from home as one of the top perks of working for the company.” How sad for them that this will all change in a matter of weeks, but is this really a blow to work-life balance everywhere else?
Over the weekend, Huffington Post’s Lisa Belkin wrote in her column:
“I had hope for Marissa Mayer. I'd thought that while she was breaking some barriers — becoming the youngest woman CEO ever lead a Fortune 500 company, and certainly the first to do it while pregnant — she might take on the challenge of breaking a number of others. That she'd use her platform and her power to make Yahoo! an example of a modern family-friendly workplace.”
This quote echoes the expectations many people, both men and women, parents and non-parents alike, who have put on Marissa Mayer the arduous task of being role model and trail-blazer of modern motherhood. Because she is a woman in a high-profile position, she ought to be greasing the works for other women eking their way up the ranks… but is this fair? Is this even right?
Do you think women in power have a responsibility to make strides in feminism and model of perfect work-life balance?
I don't know that I would call Mayer a role model of any sort, because she is very much tangential to the “norm”. Her highly criticized need and urgency to return to the helm of the large tech firm so shortly after giving birth, for example, does not reflect the typical worker's need to take a full maternity leave, as guaranteed by the Family Leave and Medical Leave Act. Given her estimated net worth of $300 million, we can only assume that she has a fleet of extraordinary support staff propping up her home life that most working parents could never afford.
Why should her situation dictate the needs of other parents who probably lack her wealth and resources?
Furthermore, Marissa Mayer has famously disavowed “feminism” at every turn. Perhaps this is a way to distance her decisions as a CEO from any sort of mandate of how the rest of the world ought to behave.
Is it Enough to be CEO of Yahoo! – is Marissa Mayer responsible for saving feminism too? Do you find her to be a trailblazer for working women? How do you feel about companies that changing their work-at-home policies like Yahoo! ?
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