In February, Marissa Mayer made the decision to ban work from home programs. What followed? Quite an outrage. In March, Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, banned the same programs. What followed? Not much. So what is the difference between these two decisions. The most obvious answer is that one was made by a woman in power and the other by a man.
So what?I immediately heard of Marissa Mayer’s decision through numerous media outlets. However, I heard nothing about Best Buy’s policy change without researching it myself. Why is that? Kara Baskin, author of a excellent article on this story, asked Laura Liswood (secretary general of the Council of Women World Leaders), to shed some light on the issue here. “Yet because so few people from historically underrepresented groups are in positions of power, Liswood says, we throw our hopes behind the few who rise to the top. There are just 21 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to 2012 statistics from DiversityInc., as well as six black CEOs, seven Asian, and six Latino. When one member of an underrepresented group succeeds, her recipe for it becomes one-size-fits-all.” What now? Essentially, in order to rid of backlash from decisions like Marissa Mayer’s, there needs to be more leaders like her in high power positions. At that point, decisions of business leaders from underrepresented groups won’t be news stories but simply every day business decisions. For this change to occur, there is call for change leaders from underrepresented groups who are equipped to handle the power and culture within these organizations. With time, these leaders will multiply and there decisions will no longer be new stories simply because they are not the carbon copy of the executives we see all too often today.