Newly minted Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s pregnancy confounded financial writers, with one saying the news was both “wonderful and awkward,” as they struggled to relay what her appointment means to the company’s financial future while acknowledging she may not be there for a spell. Beta Beat said that, having shot through the “glass ceiling,” Marissa Mayer is now balancing on the edge of a “glass cliff.” Other reports call her “the hottest CEO” ever. (Trust me, no woman hates hearing that!) And then there’s talk of a 59 million dollar salary. This is a woman other women could easily hate. But the only hater so far has been one commentator who Piers Morgan took to task after he doled out the unsolicited advice that Ms. Mayer should just stay home and raise her baby for a while!
Bloomberg Business News pointed out that Marissa Mayer could be a role model and shine a light on maternity leave policy, especially after she reportedly announced she won’t be taking it. But I would say in Mayer’s case, she doesn’t have to take it to be a role model. She could help publicize a program that California created to bridge the gap between the Family and Medical Leave Act. It’s a 1% payroll tax that most agree is working. It allows employees to get at least half their pay while out and the consensus seems to be that it is working. And more than 80% of businesses have said it isn’t creating an additional financial burden the way they feared it might. The problem is not enough people know about the program. What a wonderful opportunity for Ms. Mayer to redirect the conversation away from, “should she or shouldn’t she?” and do a good deed for all of the other parents out there who don’t realize they have this option available to them. We shouldn’t forget that the ultimate sexist reaction to Ms. Mayer’s news would be to assume that she should be able to be a CEO who has a fairly steep challenge in front of her job-wise, first-time Mom and someone who needs to get in the middle of the fight over whether to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act so that the Feds mandate paid leave. Two of the three assignments would be daunting for any of us. And at the end of the day, it’s about options and choice. And California has found a creative way, that appears affordable for everyone involved, to make sure women have fair choices in front of them.
Below are a couple of good links you might be interested in.