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Perspective

Executive privilege: Marissa Mayer’s HR decisions at Yahoo

When the Yahoo CEO banned working from home in February, outrage followed. Yet when a middle-aged male CEO made a similar decision in March, there was barely a whimper.

WHEN YAHOO CEO MARISSA MAYER banned working from home in February, outrage followed. Yet when Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, a middle-aged man, made a similar decision in March, there was barely a whimper. Both are new CEOs trying to turn around struggling companies, so what explains the different reactions? A double standard rooted in desperation.

 We all but expect decisions that aren’t family-friendly from men in power, but one coming from a rare female CEO felt like a betrayal. Mayer — 37, stylish, and five months pregnant when she took the Yahoo job — seemed to promise a new way of doing business. In an era when work-life balance has become entangled with feminism and the definition of success, many hoped she would write computer code and a new history for corporate America.

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