I was thrilled when Yahoo! hired a woman as its new CEO. I was even more thrilled that she was pregnant. I mean, what a HUGE step for women in the workplace! I thought, “Maybe now companies will start to see that mothers can be just as valuable as their male counterparts and that being a parent doesn’t hinder our skills and capabilities. Maybe companies will start to see the merits of accommodating new parents, such as increased morale and thus increased productivity. Maybe – just maybe – she will be a trailblazer for women in the American work force and even women considering working in the field of technology.”
Instead, she decided that she only needed a 2 week maternity leave, making other parents who choose to use their medical leaves and bonding time look like slackers. Instead, she decided to place a company-wide ban on remote work. I think Lisa Belkin of Huffington Post voiced my suspicion well, that Marissa Mayer is trying to put on a “macho-never-slowed-down-by-the-pesky-realities-of-life-outside-the-office” show, and I can’t see it ending well.
As a woman and mom whose business was founded out of a need and desire to work from home and simultaneously raise my own child, I’m appalled. As a tech geek & business woman with a lot of friends in the industry, I’m counting the nails she just put in Yahoo!’s coffin.
I mean, we live in an increasingly connected era. We can reach most people at any time, from anywhere. Tools like Google+ Hangouts, instant messenger tools of all sorts (INCLUDING YAHOO! MESSENGER. SERIOUSLY.), Skype, and FaceTime make remote collaboration easy, accessible, and possible. We exist in a time where physical proximity is becoming increasingly insignificant, so why Yahoo! would choose not to take advantage of readily available technology is beyond me.
The thing is, lots of Yahoo!’s competitors are taking advantage of this and they recognize the value of remote work, not only from a perspective of employee accommodation and morale building, but from the perspectives of cost-efficiency and productivity.
Just to put this in perspective, let’s just say I’m working for Yahoo! and my work arrangements are dependent on being able to work from home 2 days a week. I’ve just lost that option, so I’m going to have to look for a different job. If I want to stay in the same field of work, I’m looking at Yahoo!’s competitors. Yahoo! is losing me as an asset.
And that’s where I think this is going to be the biggest issue for Yahoo!: they’re squeezing out assets, because I’m willing to wager that the people for whom these arrangements are made are pretty valuable team members. On top of that, pushing this ban is effectively reducing the pool of talent that would be interested in working for Yahoo! in the future, especially women. It’s true – there aren’t as many women in technology as there are men, but policies like Yahoo!’s only perpetuate that slowly dwindling trend.
But that’s a whole different can of worms.
Personnel are driving forces and factors in a company’s future progress. You can have all the great ideas in the world, but if you don’t have people on your team who are excited by your vision and motivated to make it happen, you’re in for a long struggle.
The world of technology often moves faster than we’re aware. When a company whose future is staked on innovation takes such massive steps backwards in its personnel management, you can only wonder where else they’re falling behind.