Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yahoo Tabs Marissa Mayer as CEO

The Corporate Justice Blog has long advocated for diversity amongst corporate leadership.  The recent naming of Marissa Mayer as CEO of Yahoo has sparked significant attention and debate.  Mayer's gender (female), relative youth (37 years old), current pregnancy (six months pregnant), and announced pay package (estimated at somewhere between $71 and $100 million over five years) have each separately garnered praise and criticism.  Still, after many years leading and innovating at Google, Mayer seems poised to bring exciting leadership and stability to struggling Yahoo.

Mayer's appointment as CEO of Yahoo makes her the 19th female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and the first ever pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500. Mayer will have the unique opportunity to start a family and lead a Fortune 500 company at the same time. Although, one should ask why this is particularly newsworthy. Certainly there have been hundreds of male CEOs of Fortune 500 companies that have become fathers, some for the first time, while simultaneously leading a Fortune 500. That this is news personifies the double standard that attaches to females when they become important leaders in corporate America.

From ThinkProgress: "Board members at Yahoo were aware that Mayer was expecting during the hiring process, and treated her pregnancy with a respect and deference very few women get to enjoy in the workplace. According to Mashable, an anonymous source said, 'It was not part of the consideration. …Like every other professional woman, she has to weigh all the factors in doing her job and having a family':  Mayer also expressed that she was pleased the Yahoo board was not concerned, telling Fortune their actions 'showed their evolved thinking.'  And as far as maternity leave goes, don’t expect Mayer to be out of the office for long. The new CEO plans to return to the office after a few short weeks and will be working throughout her time off. Yahoo’s scheduled September board meeting will be in Sunnyvale, Calif., rather than New York, to accommodate for the expecting mother-to-be."

(photo courtesy of wikimedia)


  1. Thanks for writing this article. I think it's newsworthy because it does show a new level of inclusion for pregnant women. I realize that many new CEOs have also been new fathers. But pregnancy takes a much greater tole on the pregnant person than on the spouse of the pregnant person.

    How a person can take on both the tole of pregnancy and the tole of a high stress, high profile position like Yahoo's CEO is beyond me. I am not saying it can't be done I am just saying I don't understand it. And that's okay.

    But, I don't see it as a double standard. When a person is being considered to lead a company that millions of people have a stake in, it's only fair to assess all of the assets and liabilities that they bring to the position. I wouldn't suggest that pregnancy should be a dis-qualifier, but it is something worth considering and talking about.

    There are other examples of CEOs working in spite of a medical condition or some other potential liability. I think about Steve Jobs and his cancer, sometimes I read about executives moving from one company to a competitor. Politicians have their previous business experiences criticized in terms of conflicts of interest. All of these things must be looked at critically; which isn't to say negatively. Pregnancy is just one condition that only applies to women; looking at it critically, and making note when the conclusion results in hiring her does not constitute a double standard.

  2. anonymous,

    thanks for your comment. i agree that the health of a ceo is important for a board to consider when acting in the best interest of the shareholders they represent. i applaud yahoo's board for reaching for talent rather than accepted tradition. you make a good point about pregnancy being an issue a board should discuss.

    i do however think that a double standard still applies to female leaders in general. often, questions about family, children and nurturing come up with female candidates that simply do not come up with male leadership candidates, despite the continuing enlightenment of many men that are more often accepting greater caregiver roles with their children.

  3. Congratulation Marissa Mayer,
    Yesterday i was watching news and i seen Marissa Mayer is new chief executive of Yahoo. Her pay package is includes bonuses, stocks and options that could be worth $129 million out the door if she stays at the Sunnyvale, Calif., company for five years.


    Base salary: $1 million

    Bonus: $2 million to $4 million

    Equity awards: $12 million