Marissa Mayer, widely reported to have been the first-ever pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 tech company, told Fortune in July that she planned to “work throughout” her maternity leave, returning to work a few weeks after birth.
I can’t make judgement on any mother’s decision to return to work outside of the home after birth as I’ve been there and done that (albeit 12 months later) but can’t help but think Mayer’s move back to the office so soon after birth is a bad one for both herself and female employees everywhere.
In a country where maternity leave is already one of the shortest in developed countries around the world, it sets expectations for women to be returning to their desk when new mums are likely getting no sleep, potentially establishing a breastfeeding relationship and likely still suffering from glorious post birth ‘side effects’ like lochia, exhaustion and “baby blues”. Mayer may have the position and influence to be able to bring her baby to work with her after such a short maternity leave, keeping the mama-baby dyad in tact, but will female underlings at Yahoo! have the same privilege? I doubt it.
If Mayer is committed enough to her job to be able to effectively work from home during the first 2-3 weeks, why not extend that a little further? Establish a longer maternity period, including a period of paid work from home as standard? As CEO of a tech company she has access to gadgets and goodies that would make remote working a breeze, and this simple step could have a massive impact on female Yahoo! employees as well as working mums across the United States.
What do you think – should Marissa Mayer be encouraged to stay at home a little longer so as not to set an uncomfortable precedent for other female employees?