Since Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s announcement to end telecommuting for employees of her organization later this year, the questions regarding women, the workplace, diversity and the glass ceiling seem to have been exposed to additional heat. One of the biggest challenges of workplace diversity comes from the very spotlight placed on women who hold leadership roles. As Phil Rosenthal pointed out in his Chicago Tribune article, “Had a male CEO made Mayer’s decision, the coverage likely would have begun and ended with a discussion of the efficacy of telecommuting.” Instead, Mayer is taking flack for not providing a flexible workplace – and her biggest detractors are work-from-home moms.
Whether or not Mayer’s decision was the right one for women, the dialogue about the decision is that which goes to the heart of the challenges women face in the workplace, and the area where most organizations need to do the most work. Her decision needs to be analyzed through the lens of leadership: Was the decision the right one for the company? What were the financial and management motivations behind the decision? As a nation and as individual organizations, we have to move away from seeing everything through the gender lens.