I'm not here to talk about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to discontinue telecommuting at the company. I'm here to talk about the reaction to it.
As someone who raised two children as a single parent while working, I can relate to the many women who rely on working from home to manage a family and a career and I can understand how this controversial decision creates adverse opinions on the efficiency and fairness of telecommuting.
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As someone who has a leadership position in the male-dominated auto industry and who has also had to make tough decisions for her company, I cannot understand how the debate has shifted to the questioning of Ms. Mayer's leadership, strategy, and ability to turn around a fledgling company that has seen two former leaders before her fail. I cannot understand how this has encouraged some to call her the "Stalin of Silicon Valley."
Certainly until it becomes more of a norm in our society, powerful women will continue to be under more of a microscope than their male counterparts, both from the outside world and within their respective companies. Would Ms. Mayer's decision have made as much of a wave had it been handed out by a Mr. Mayer? I'd argue no.
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Although I don't fully agree with the decision itself, as a CEO, I respect Ms. Mayer for making it. She's looking at her company and making the moves she believes will help it succeed, not based on popularity but based on the good it will do the company. Sometimes that involves tough choices which will be scrutinized by employees and the public. So I say, let her do her thing and to the American people, media, and naysayers, I say let female CEOs do our thing.
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We have tackled a lot as a country when it comes to women's equality – we've come close to the White House, we're senators, congresswomen, Secretary of States, race car drivers, astronauts, and leaders of billion dollar companies. But this instance tells me that even though we now allow women to be leaders, inherent trust in us, is still not where it needs to be.
I have experienced first-hand having decisions second guessed solely based on my gender.
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My advice to women who are in similar situations is to do as Marissa Mayer has done, be unapologetic, unwavering, and decisive. The minute decisions are made based on how they will be received, is the minute you begin to fail as a leader. At the same time, don't make decisions to flex your female muscles or establish dominance in the workplace, this is also failing as a leader.
Before you make a decision ask yourself, am I doing this for the good of the company? If the answer is yes, and you have a specific vision of what is good for the company, then you are succeeding as a leader.
Barbara Moran-Goodrich is the President and CEO of Moran Family of Brands, one of the leading franchisors of general automotive repair, transmission repair and automotive accessory centers in the country.