It’s been a few months since Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has
been criticized for (pick one) not taking a long enough maternity
leave/naming her baby via crowdsourcing/not
acting as a good enough role
model for working women/building a
nursery next to her office/telling remote
employees to report to the office. Which means it must be time to talk
about her again—just so long as it’s not in the context of her actual job.
But wait! Could it be that Mayer has actually done something
to garner applause instead of boos? Holy twist, Batman! It was announced on
Tuesday that Yahoo will be extending—doubling, even—paid
maternity and paternity leave for employees.
“Recently, we rolled out some new and improved benefits to
support the happiness and well-being of Yahoos and their families,” a company
spokesperson told the UK’s Daily Mail.
New moms will now be entitled to 16-week leaves with
benefits, while adoptive parents and dads can take eight weeks, also paid. The
old policy allowed just eight weeks for moms, or 10 if they had a C-section.
Another bonus is a $500 gift from Yahoo to be spent on babysitters, house
cleaners, toys or baby-related groceries. And not wanting to offend or leave
out the childless—Yahoo is also offering gifts for employees with new
dogs and cats.
Lest anyone think this change in perks was a ploy on Mayer’s
part to salvage her reputation as a simultaneous enemy to women, working moms
and female executives, it turns out Yahoo is just trying to lure talent to
their company instead of rivals such as Google and Facebook. The former offers
22-weeks paid maternity leave and the latter offers 4 months in addition to
$4,000 in “baby cash.” In other words, she’s acting as an actual CEO, not a
Of course while it would seem this is more good business
strategy than face-saving, it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s coming at a time
when the complaints about Mayer just won’t go away.
It’s hard to imagine Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg getting nitpicked for every human resource-related change
But it’d be one thing if Mayer’s critics just disagreed with
her reining in remote employees because they felt it was an anachronistic
strategy, but it’s a whole other thing how she’s accused of not playing
for the right team because others don’t like her choices as a mom and female
It’s hard to imagine Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg getting nitpicked
for every human resource-related change and nuance at Google and Facebook the
way Mayer has been. Would it make news if either had a nursery built next to
their office? When was the last time you read anything about compensation
changes at their companies? At a time when women are supposed to be leaning in
and worrying about getting ahead, why can’t we just allow Mayer to lean in
herself and to the job she was hired to do as a savvy employee without trying
to trip her at every turn and make her do it also as a woman and mom?