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Dragging the bull through Silicon Valley

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Marissa Mayer is a bit of a marvel in the Tech/Business arena. At 37 years old, Mayer is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 Company and is ranked number 14 on the 2012 Fortune Magazine list of America’s most powerful businesswoman. Appointing a then visibly pregnant Mayer’s to head Yahoo as its CEO and President was seen by many as a bold move on the part of the flailing tech company.  Mayer’s announcement that she would only be taking 2 weeks off post-childbirth was received with criticism and concern by some women. But nothing has drawn quite as much criticism and concern from both women and men than Mayer’s latest move to ban Yahoo employees from working from home.

Best known for its laid back work environment and near endless stream of free cafeteria food goodies,  Silicon Valley has been posited as the model for working from home. Skype, Google hangout, e-mail, text, etc.,  has heightened the accessibility and manageability of working from home. For years, many Yahoo employees have enjoyed the convenience and virtual freedom that comes from working from home, a benefit many in the tech arena see as par for the course. In issuing the edict to ban Yahoo employees from working from home, Mayer flipped what many in that industry feel is par for the course on its head. And make no bones about it,  this decision has not only left many hopping mad, but also hopping scared.

In making this decision, a thus far mum Mayer has been accused of turning back the feminist clock, of destroying an innovative work structure, and of failing to make managers take responsibility for the “missing in action”  work from home employees many feel this decision is specifically targeting. Best Buy’s recent announcement that it too would be banning work from home has further fanned the flame of concern that others would be tempted to institute a Mayer- like ban at their companies. Adding injury to what many consider an insulting decision to ban working from home is the revelation that Mayer is constructing a nursery next to her office. Yahoo’s “craftily” worded rationale for

While the ramifications of Mayer’s ban on working from home remain to be seen, what is apparent is how quickly many women jumped on Mayer’s back for this decision. Yes, many men have also criticized Mayer for this decision, most notably Sir Richard Branson, but what I’m most concerned with is the reaction of women. As women, I think we oftentimes tend to severely criticize women on the upper echelons of the business ladder whom we deem have abandoned the “movement” far more than men. We cast all of our hopes and dreams on women like Mayer and are crushed when they don’t act in the way we had envisioned. It is time to stop expecting that women act and think in one uniform way. This is not to say that I disagree with allowing employees to work from home. Depending on the position, I think working from home is something that should be explored on a broader basis.  I would hope that employers, regardless of their gender, would consider allowing more employees to work from home. However, I do not think it would be fair of me to hold Marissa Mayer to a higher standard for this hope because she is a woman.

At the end of the day, Mayer has to answer to her bosses, the Yahoo shareholders. It is this collection of bosses whom is looking to Mayer to turn around a tech company that has been failing for years. I think it is fair to assume that the decision to ban Yahoo employees from working at home was not one made in a bubble. Yahoo has been suffering from a bloated employee work pool that has failed to keep up with its competitors and it is in such an environment that these sort of  unpopular decisions typically creep up. The “craftily” worded memo from Yahoo’s HR department, I believe, only scratches the surface of what drove Mayer to institute this ban. 

In time, Mayer may reverse this ban and start allowing Yahoo employees to work from home. Maintaining an open and respectful dialogue about this issue, I believe, will go a long way in shaping how companies will receive the decision to work from home debate. In the meantime, Mayer’s decision presents women with the unique opportunity to take stock of what they expect and why from women in top business  positions.

What do you think of Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home? Do you believe women in top business positions should be held to a higher/different standard than their male counterparts? 



About musingsnyc

I'm a self-professed iOS app addict who loves reading, writing, surfing the Internet and my hometown, New York City. In 2000, I graduated from the City University of New York, Hunter College, with a degree in English (writing concentration) and Political Science. In August 2009, I received an online MBA degree with a specialization in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix. For the past 8 years, I've worked as a Paralegal in the Immigration Law Unit of one of the largest not for profit law firms in New York City. Prior to my work as a Paralegal, I worked as a Traffic Coordinator and Assistant Account Executive in a New York City based Hispanic advertising agency. Throughout all of my different work and school experiences the one constant has been my love of writing. As long as I can remember, I have been jotting words down in notebooks, pieces of scrap paper, and just about any surface where ink would not dissolve. I have always been eager to share my thoughts and opinions about what is going on in the world and my personal life via writing. It would be a dream come true if I could channel my love and passion for writing into a full-time or freelance opportunity. My goal is to share my thoughts, opinions, life experiences in a thought- provoking and entertaining way with all that drop by. I love interacting with people and thus would love and greatly appreciate all feedback via the comments section of this blog.

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