Feminism is still not where it should be. “Feminists” are quick to judge women in power. I say this because Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo Inc., recently announced a ban on work-from-home benefits for her employees. She’s since been criticized by women everywhere. Most have rebuked the 37-year-old, saying the ban makes life harder for working mothers, who will no longer be able to schedule around their children.
And it’s true. Daycare fees and nannies don’t come cheap. Not everyone is worth $300 million like Mayer is. Perhaps Mayer should have considered building an in-office daycare, rather than her own personal nursery, which is in the comfort of her office. Yes, Mayer has the privilege of bringing her five-and-a-half-month-old son to work.
When I interned at Yahoo, co-workers of mine occasionally worked from home. They were always available throughout the day, and their productivity didn’t seem to diminish if they weren’t in the office.
But Mayer isn’t trying to call everyone who works from home an unproductive employee, as some might suggest. She’s trying to help a company be more successful. The fact that her decision has led to her being called a bad role model for women is upsetting.
Working from home is great, and sometimes necessary. But nothing can replace the value of working face-to-face and having human interaction. It allows us to bounce ideas off each other, get second opinions, and build teamwork. If a male were in Mayer’s position, I believe he would be criticized, but not as heavily or in the same way as Mayer.
He would be viewed as a CEO doing his job. The fact that it’s a woman making this decision has, for some unknown reason, brought us to a backwards way of thinking. Because Mayer is a female, she’s expected to make decisions on behalf of every mother in her company. Why? Have we ever placed such expectations on male CEOs?
I feel it’s going against feminism to blame a female CEO for doing the same job as a man. We shouldn’t expect her to take into consideration women trying to balance work life with home life if we don’t expect the same from a male. Business is business.
I also don’t think it’s fair to assume that all working women have, or want to have, a family.Nor is it fair to assume that having to go into the office makes it impossible to have a family and still be successful. My mom did it. She’s one of many women who have managed to work full time, be successful and still have her own version of a happy home life.
Since Mayer’s takeover in July 2012, Yahoo’s stock has gone up by 46 per cent. This increase has taken less than a year, which says a lot about Mayer’s performance.
So far, her decisions, which include providing free food and smartphones to her employees, have proved to increase productivity and create a sense of oneness in the company.
Making employees work together under a single roof is just one more way Mayer is ensuring she achieves goals. It’s only fair to trust that her latest move will profit her.
She’s not a disgrace to women, but rather an example. She’s not letting her gender influence a decision that will affect the success of her company; she’s using her skills, experience and knowledge to better her company.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 13, 2013.