YAHOO! I felt like shouting as I read the news that Yahoo had appointed Marissa Mayer as its new CEO.
I felt like cheering for Yahoo not just because they appointed Marissa, one of the very few women who have reached the level of the CEO in any industry, not just because she is just 37, much younger than her usual CEO counterparts who are well beyond 50 but because she is 6 months pregnant and is going to give birth to a baby in the next few months even as she takes on the reins at the troubled firm.
Did Yahoo make the right decision? Analysts will write profound articles about her sound engineering and product management background that might help rebuild Yahoo’s fortunes or her lack of strategic vision that might ultimately be limiting for the already shaken company.
The argument will continue and the results will soon be visible.
But for now, I celebrate the decision for a much more personal reason.
By appointing a 6 month pregnant lady as the CEO, Yahoo has brought to light a common discrimination ground for women.
How many companies would take such a decision in India?
Forget about considering for a CEO position, how many companies would even consider a pregnant lady for a promotion or a demanding role?
I have seen cases where women are passed over for plum roles by companies thinking that they cannot give their best after becoming mothers.
Most women end up either leaving their jobs or choosing a less demanding role or changing track completely after being mothers. In fact, they often themselves step away from roles requiring travel or extended hours as they try to prioritize the time they spend with their children.
But the decision to choose to work or not to work and to choose a demanding role or a flexible role should only be the mother’s.
It’s her right and her choice.
Not the companys’.
The company has no right to discriminate against women based on pregnancy.
As for Marissa, is she taking the right decision? Will she miss the bonding with her baby by working through her maternity leave? Well, I believe these decisions are purely personal.
I wish her all the very best as she takes on two huge challenges at the same time.
And I sincerely hope more companies follow Yahoo’s example by at least offering women roles worthy of their merit rather than just discriminating based on potential motherhood issues.