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Hats off to Marissa Mayer: Mother-to-Be and Yahoo! CEO
Image courtesy of Glamour.com
If you have been keeping up with recent business press, you know the biggest story has been Yahoo! poaching away Marissa Mayer from Google.
Actually, that was not the biggest story.
On the same day of Mayer’s appointment, she revealed that she was expecting a baby boy. When it became clear that this had been disclosed to the search committee at Yahoo! prior to her hire, shockwaves were felt in offices throughout the U.S. The latest chapter of a woman’s role in the workplace turned another page.
It is absolutely incredible how far our country has come in seeing women, at various stages in their professional lives, accessing professional growth opportunities similar to those of their male counterparts. Forty years ago it was uncommon to see women with such opportunities. Today, it is an important facet to our economy, where the cost of living has skyrocketed and raising a family is largely requiring two incomes. In the past forty years, our country has gone from an underutilized female workforce, to a society that needed women in the workforce and now to a society with women securing leadership roles at all types of organizations.
As the cost of living has increased, most families need to have two working parents. This trend isn’t new, and it certainly won’t be fading fast. The result: more working mothers. A newer phenomenon has occurred as women increasingly shatter the glass ceiling: The working mom is now advancing to become the CEO.
This advancement has traditionally been seen only in smaller firms; larger corporations still set aside the positions for men. It has especially become prevalent with firms that serve mothers as their primary market.
Think about it for a second: who knows what’s most important to a mother more than another mother? The highest growth opportunity seen within the “mommy market” has occurred with products and services geared around newborns, infants and toddlers.
One company - gDiapers of Portland, Oregon - makes cloth diaper covers with disposable inserts that can be flushed, composted or can biodegrade in a landfill far faster than the conventional diaper. Co-Founder Kim Graham-Nye was honored by Fortune as one of the Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2011 with a firm that has seen its revenues explode.
In New York City, an organic baby food company named Happy Family has seen substantial growth in doubling its sales from 2010 - 2011 to $35 million. The company is now expecting to roughly double its revenues. Happy Family’s CEO Shazi Visram (who also refers to herself as the Chief Mom Officer) recently wrote this great article for Inc. about how being a CEO made her a better mother.
The mommy market is so strong that now even men are trying to capitalize on the opportunity! ecomom, an e-tailer focusing on products for babies and small children for the eco-friendly mother based out of Las Vegas, sells products from gDiapers and the second fastest-growing inner city firm in the US, Revolution Foods.
Better yet, every one of the aforementioned firms is located in the inner city.
With the attention surrounding Marissa Mayer’s ascension to the top post of Yahoo!, it’s safe to say that we are witnessing a truly watershed moment in American business history. Yahoo! has been in turmoil for some time and will need someone as qualified as her to right the ship. We will see how Mayer balances her new roles as a mother and a CEO of a Fortune 500 firm. Everyone who knows anything about her tenure at Google knows that Mayer is smart, innovative and incredibly qualified.
What Mayer has done by taking this particular job at this particular point in her life is to tell women that you can still have a great career, rise to the highest levels of corporate America and be a great mom. This reassurance should be heard across all board rooms of businesses large and small. Leaders should be reminded that giving employees a chance to grow professionally as well as to grow personally drives a solid culture within a team.
BY Alex Rodriguez on July 24th, 2012
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