An Open Letter To Marissa Mayer

For those of you, who don’t know, Marissa is the CEO of Yahoo and recently announced this

Dear Marissa,

First, congratulations on your latest pregnancy! Secondly, I don’t actually expect you to ever read this, you clearly have other things to do. Finally I really admire you for being so successful in business, it’s a real achievement and inspiring for other women.

Since becoming a mum, I’ve learnt not to judge other parents so I’m not going to judge you but I do have some questions for you following your announcement that “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.” Indeed I don’t understand a few things and was wondering if you could explain yourself?

  1. I’m sure you realise twins are often born premature (you’ve already quoted the likelihood of being pregnant with twins so I’m sure you’re clued up on all things scientifically twin-related) and might arrive months before you are due. Would this affect the length of your maternity leave as you may not give birth in December as planned?
  2. If they are indeed premature (which I sincerely hope they aren’t, my brothers were and it’s horrible to see them so tiny alone in incubators, I don’t wish that on anybody) and have to stay in hospital for while, how often will you visit them? would you still go back to work after 2 weeks and only see them in the evening?
  3. I assume you’re not even considering breastfeeding? Even the first week when the colostrum and first milk can have amazing benefits for newborns?
  4. What time will you be finishing work when you go back? Apologies for the detailed questions but I’m trying to get my head around all this.
  5. Why don’t you take a month off? Surely if Yahoo can survive 2 weeks without you, it can survive a month? especially if they are born when planned around December, surely things slow down around Christmas and it’s a nice time to be hoe with family?

It clearly isn’t easy for you whatever length of maternity leave you choose to take, you’re going to be judged harshly for it because you are a powerful, successful woman in the public eye. I think it’s a shame your announcement didn’t say anything about other working women, including your own employees and their choices around maternity leave.

Didn’t you think that other women working for Yahoo might think that, despite you having increased the paid maternity leave to 16 weeks since joining the company, you actually don’t think women should take that long? Maybe you wish to take longer but fear it may negatively impact the company too much? Is that more important than  newborn twins hardly seeing their mother? Didn’t you think clarifying that you do/or don’t expect any of your employees to do the same would be helpful?

You had the opportunity to to address a big issue that matters to millions of women and you just made it sound like you couldn’t take more than 2 weeks because the company needs you more. Maybe this is a misunderstanding, maybe not. I know you once said that you wanted to take 6 months maternity leave but then you were just about to start the new job at Yahoo so it was impossible, is it really impossible to take more than 2 weeks off this time?

Maybe you simply don’t want to take longer off and that is totally fine and respectable but then why didn’t you say “I find looking after newborns boring and tiring and would rather be in the office, qualified nannies would probably look after them better than me anyway”, if you said that, I think people would really respect you for being honest, instead you’ve just been vague. Given how bad the law around maternity leave in the US is, its a shame you didn’t use this opportunity to make a stand. I guess you’re not a politician and you don’t have to justify anything to anyone but with great success, comes great responsibility and it’s a missed opportunity to further working women’s rights.

It’s not easy for working mums and I don’t feel like you are helping anybody, on the contrary, I think it puts even more pressure on working mums to come back to work quickly, especially women in senior positions.

Lots of commentators have been saying “if she were a man , we wouldn’t be having this discussion”, no we wouldn’t but I doubt there are many male CEOs, whose wives give birth and then within 2 weeks, they are both back to work full time. I don’t imagine your husband is going to stay home, is he? So the babies will not have either parent at home, I think that’s sad.

I respect your choice and you are VERY lucky to be able to choose to go back to work so quickly despite being a millionaire and obviously not doing it for financial reasons, lots of women, don’t have a choice and have to go back to work to earn money.

I respect but can’t understand your choice (I’m not a CEO so clearly can’t imagine your professional life) and I can’t understand why you didn’t just add a few sentences to your announcement that said something along the lines of ” I am not trying to set an example to other Yahoo mothers, they are fully entitled to use the 16 weeks of maternity leave that is our policy, they should be supported in their choice. I do not see it in a negative light to take the full allowance and it should not have a detrimental effect on any woman’s career”.

I wish you all the best with the rest of your pregnancy and just hope that in the future the US government dramatically improves the maternity leave situation and no woman working for Yahoo or another company feels guilty about taking longer than 2 weeks off after giving birth.

You can respond to this in the comments below 🙂

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Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

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