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Marissa Mayer: Not Your Mom, Not Your Boss, Not Your Role Model

Marissa Mayer: Not Your Mom, Not Your Boss, Not Your Role Model

By: Daniel Jeffers - Search Engine Optimization - 2014

Marissa Mayer is Not Every Woman

The Yahoo! CEO position was about as enticing as being Spinal Tap's next drummer when Marissa Mayer took it over. Somehow, Yahoo! managed to score a CEO that was out of its league. But instead of focusing on the challenge she is facing, and the significant progress Mayer has already made, everyone is obsessed with Mayer as a woman. She is a woman.

But I keep thinking back to Doug Williams, the quarterback for the Redskins who took them to the Superbowl in 1988. Doug Williams is black. The press was obsessed with him as a black quarterback to the point that one reporter asked "how long have you been a black quarterback?" Hopefully, at some point there will be enough women in the CEO position that the most visible of them are no longer held responsible for all women. Nobody worries about whether Richard Branson is setting the right example for male CEOs.

The latest explosion is over her memo ending Yahoo!'s current work-at-home policy. This has angered many work-at-home advocates and once again brought out charges that Mayer is not helping women. Columnists are pounding away at their keyboards, from home mostly, decrying Mayer's move as anti-environment, anti-empowering, and anti-woman. What a few people have noticed, though, is that Yahoo! is not a smoothly functioning, healthy enterprise with highly motivated, trusted, productive workers. Yahoo! is broken, and Marissa Mayer is trying to fix it.

Letting her do her job will do more for women in the workplace than critiqueing every decision she makes as if she represents all women all the time.

The Marissa Mayer Memo is the Right Call

I have worked in a broken environment. Morale was low, and not getting better. Mediocrity was the norm, and innovation was not rewarded. I don't know if it was a cause or a symptom, but a lot of people, including most of the management, worked "remotely." There may have been some productive work, but adapting to the changing marketplace was impossible. You couldn't get collaboration, support, or management buy-in. I don't know if people were "hiding," but it often felt that way.

I have also worked remotely and seen it be quite effective. I have clients I've never met in person. I know groups that work together entirely online--it can work. But when I need to get things done, I go into the office. Even though I don't have to, I work for myself. I work in a collaborative workspace, and a lot of people show up. We work better around, and with each other. We share, and challenge, ideas. It is a very innovative, productive environment. You can't get that environment over the Internet.

Yahoo! is really broken, and it needs to be more innovative to survive. Someone has to raise morale, which happens more when people are together. If it were healthy, then Richard Branson would probably be right. You could let people work from where they wanted, and many would come into the office anyway.