News Monday that Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) named former Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) executive Marissa Mayer as its CEO and also appointed her to the board of directors is a victory on many levels.
It’s great news for Mayer, Yahoo — which is in dire need of a corporate miracle — and professional women.
And personally, I think it also could be excellent news for YHOO shareholders down the road. After all, research shows that companies with more female board members perform better financially than companies led by less diverse boards.
In fact, the only group of people who aren’t celebrating Yahoo’s big news probably work for Google.
But the news in the Mayer household actually gets even better.
Via her Twitter feed last evening, Mayer confirmed that she and her husband Zachary Bogue are expecting a baby boy. Like many high-powered female executives, Mayer anticipates taking a brief maternity leave.
“I like to stay in the rhythm of things (at Yahoo),” she told Fortune in an exclusive interview. “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”
Mayer’s pregnancy was something she disclosed to the Yahoo board in June when she met with Michael Wolf from the company’s search committee, Fortune also reports.
Parts of me wish that Yahoo’s decision to hire a pregnant woman to lead its company wasn’t such a big deal. But it is a big deal. It is a victory for professional women everywhere, and it’s an even bigger deal for working mothers.
As Megan Garber from The Atlantic pointed out:
“This, on the one hand, should really be none of our business. And on whatever level the news may be even a tiny bit our business — the human family, the public eye — it should be worth a congratulations to Mayer and her husband, nothing more. On the broader level, though — of the human family, of the public eye — Mayer’s pregnancy means something. How she handles it, publicly, will mean something.”
It’s often easy to look at the progress made in the area of gender equality — and great strides in the right direction have been taken — and lose sight of the arduous hurdles that still exist.
A report released earlier this year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that many pregnant women and caregivers still are denied job opportunities and equal treatment in the workplace. This comes more than 30 years after the passing of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Hopefully, the day will soon come when news of a company hiring a woman during her pregnancy won’t garner headlines. But until that time, companies like Yahoo that don’t consider pregnancy a liability should be commended.