Marissa Mayer is taking it on the chin, again.
In a recently leaked memo detailing how telecommuting is now verboten over at Yahoo, the embattled Chief Executive Officer found herself on the podium of vilification.
Both mainstream and social media erupted in simultaneous horror. “How could she?” “What does this say about her as a parent or even as a woman?”
Wake up and smell the coffee people. This is a woman who is a CEO. And therein lies the contradiction.
The point that is most worrisome is the prevailing thinking that as a female CEO, you need to stand on the feminist soapbox while being a hard-headed business leader. Sometimes you just can’t do both.
Mayer has made her point very clearly: she’s not going to be the “mommy CEO.” She’s not going to make an early mark by extending favorable policies to women and to parents. She needs to quickly show how she’s going to save an ailing and bloated company. And yet, many of us can’t get our heads around that when her thinking flies in the face of perspectives we feel she should uphold.
According to a recent article in Business Insider, Yahoo! is full of people who telecommute – some who haven’t stepped foot inside the mothership for years. Yet, they are reaping the benefits, the pay checks, and the free iPhone, while the company has lagged behind its most fierce competitors.
Sure there will be people who don’t like this decision; and they will leave. Clearly, that’s exactly what Mayer hopes will happen, which will be a huge boost to the bottom line.
Which is why she was hired in the first place. The decision to make Mayer the new face of feminism was ours, not hers.
Yet, since her hiring, women have not been kind to Mayer. Not when she refused to appear pregnant on the cover of Fortune magazine, not when she crowd-sourced her baby’s name and not when she declared that taking care of her baby was “easy.”
Let’s look at it from a business perspective: she needs to prove herself to her company, to her board, to the stock market and to the business world at large. She needs to make quick wins within the company, help it grow and make it profitable. There’s little room for mommy empathy in any of that.
There is no doubt this woman has steely resolve. She will let this current anger burn hot and subside, then get on with the job she was hired to do.
Maybe, just maybe, Mayer has a grander plan. Once she has the credibility of saving a company and winning the respect of Wall Street, she will have the potential of standing on an even grander soapbox for carving out family friendly policies. Policies that even the old boys will have to take into consideration.
So, let’s not accuse of her of not breaking through the glass ceiling. She’s actually starting to smash it bit by bit.
Guest contributor PR consultant Elissa Freeman brings more than 25 years of communications experience to the pages of The Broad Side. Named one of Twitters Top 52 PR pros and Top 75 Badass Females, the Toronto, Canada-based Freeman is also a contributor to PR Daily/PR Daily Europe and is a guest columnist at Canada.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @elissapr.