Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made a convincing defense of her infamous no working from home memo this week. Speaking at a conference in Los Angeles, she stopped herself mid-idea to say she needed to talk about the elephant in the room, and put up a slide of a big purple elephant with the letters WFH (work from home) on its side.
When she was at Google, Mayer was credited with helping to institute flexible work schedules and make Google a great place to work, which is why her decision at Yahoo came as a surprise. But working from home is “not what’s right for Yahoo right now,” she said, adding, though, that it was a mistake to make her ban “an industry narrative.”
Mayer defended her decision by first acknowledging that “people are more productive when they’re alone,” and then continued, “but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”
Pity the poor female CEO. There are so few of them that each one is required by the culture to be Gloria Steinem. But here Mayer explains that her responsibility is first to fix the problems of Yahoo, not of womankind. Which is exactly as it should be.
Hanna Rosin is the author of “The End of Men.”