Yahoo CEO and motherhood


 

By Maureen Aylward

Marissa Mayer, who was recently named Yahoo’s CEO, is expecting her first child in October. The appointment has brought up again the issue of motherhood and professional careers. We asked our Zintro experts to lean into the issue and shed some light on it.

Charlotte Tomic, a public relations consultant, says that motherhood and business is a perennial issue because the reality for many women is that unless they want to advance in their career, they must be workaholics who can show they can work the hours necessary to be true leaders in a company. “This is true of lawyers trying to become partners or businesswomen trying to become CEOs. The reality, however, is that many women defer having children to advance their careers and then realize that they waited too long to have children. On the other hand, women who are financially well-off can hire nannies to take care of their babies, a luxury most other women can not afford,” she says. “The separation anxiety experienced by both classes of women from their babies is difficult but necessary if a woman wants to show her willingness to do whatever it takes to become successful.”

Jim Craig, an expert in sustainability strategy, says that Mayer is an ideal choice for the role, being an accomplished software engineer who has held various high level positions at Google. “But, the ‘problem’ with Mayer isn’t that she is a woman, the problem is that Mayer is about to make that wonderful transition from womanhood to motherhood. And that is the issue Mayer is facing,” says Craig. “In an age when there is supposed to be equality in the workplace, when woman can get to the top jobs, were the glass ceiling has at been removed, Mayer faces the seemingly impossible task of being a mother in charge of a multibillion dollar corporation. Why should this be a problem? It would seem that despite there being more women in top jobs there is still a dark, hidden and insidious form of discrimination taking place.”

Craig cites a Stanford study on the impacts of motherhood and careers. Participants received two CVs for a management consultant position, identical in every way, except one listed membership of a Parent Teachers Association (PTA). According to the participants the mother was 79 percent less likely to be hired, 100 percent less likely to be promoted, and be offered a salary $11,000 less.

“To deal with global issues such as climate change, poverty, and ecosystem destruction we need very different, very collaborative, and enlightened thinking. If we use the reaction to the hiring of Marissa Mayer as a barometer of how close we are to this new way of doing business, I think it’s fair to say, we are a long way off,” says Craig.

Brent Norris, a systems thinker and sustainability expert, thinks that Mayer stands out in a room of standouts. “She is vibrant with the ability of a politician to attract your innermost trust. Mayer will drive her Stanford, Walmart, and Google experiences through board meetings and pep rallies. For me, Mayer’s appointment represents a sincere risk on Yahoo’s behalf and one that will be welcomed by everyone, but it will be challenged and securitized greatly by shareholders that have tolerated Yahoo’s recent issues,” he says.

What do you think?

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More on the business and mindfulness connection



By Maureen Aylward

The Wall Street Journal reports that business schools are interested in how mindfulness as a technique can be used in business and education. Taking a look at business culture, we asked our Zintro experts of comment on how a mindfulness approach can impact business.

Tom Clark, an expert in mindfulness-based leadership development, says that the schools that are teaching and applying mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction are medical schools. “There are currently over 200 medical schools and university hospitals in the US teaching mindfulness to practitioners and individuals, but the primary audience are medical, healthcare, mental health, and education professionals who are taking professional development courses,” he says. “As a leadership development and executive coach, I find that mindfulness is not accepted by executives or graduates from the major business schools unless it is disguised. However, neurological research over the last 15 years is proving that mindfulness has a profound and lasting impact on the brain and it develops attention, awareness, focus, empathy, equanimity, higher resilience, greater contextual thinking, and creative assimilation, which are all core attributes to the successful executive.” Clark thinks that at some point business schools need to start including mindfulness in the curriculum.

Shelly Somerville, an executive coach, says that she refers to mindfulness as process awareness interventions in her action-learning workshops for top executives and boards. “I help executives gain clarity on their common vision, mission, goals, and strategies, but also on getting greater personal and group awareness around what works and what doesn’t,” she explains. “The benefits of combining strategic thinking with mindfulness can lead to leadership behavior that is truly aligned with strategy.” Using this approach, says Somerville, can bring together constituencies with very different agendas and beliefs, where they can find common ground and sustain a shared vision and it’s realization beyond the strategy retreat.

What do you think?

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The business and mindfulness connection



By Maureen Aylward

The Wall Street Journal reports that business schools are interested in how mindfulness as a technique can be used in business and education. Taking a look at business culture, we asked our Zintro experts of comment on how a mindfulness approach can impact business.

Betty Doo, an organizational psychologist, says that mindfulness has several potential benefits to an organization that implements it. “Mindfulness helps companies improve teamwork, develop strategic relationships, and avoid unnecessary conflicts,” says Doo. “By using mindfulness techniques, an employee will become more aware of his or her own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can lead to a more collaborative and authentic interpersonal approach. For example, when coming into a potentially stressful meeting with a customer or client, peer, or other stakeholder, a person who utilizes mindfulness techniques can enter with greater self awareness, be more engaged in the moment, and avoid unnecessary conflicts.”

Doo says that she uses mindfulness techniques in her executive coaching to help clients develop greater awareness of behaviors in business situations, especially stressful ones that can have a major impact on performance. “This has a ripple effect throughout the organization leading to improved relationships and more productive employees,” she says.

Meir Jacob, an expert in leadership development, says that mindfulness should be implemented as a meaningful aspect of organizational culture before a company can see results. To achieve this, he outlines the following:

  • Identify the basic assumptions and set the supporting belief system;
  • Implement the right values and norms; and
  • Create opportunities in the workplace for dialogue, rapport, mentoring and feedback.

On a task level, Jacob says that results can be found in:

  • Higher attention for and detection of irregularities and consequently, less denial;
  • A more open interpretation of phenomena that can lead to creative, innovative solutions;
  • A higher level of readiness to spot and capture opportunities as there is less fear of making mistakes, knowing that no one will be punished by making a false alarm; and
  • A higher team and personal efficacy and productivity.

On a relationship level for team, interpersonal and personal growth, results are:

  • Continuous team growth as result of the open dialogue and candid feedback;
  • A more effective interpersonal rapport among peers;
  • On personal level, a higher sense of self efficacy, daring, accomplishment, and job satisfaction; and
  • Across all levels, higher resilience and cohesion that results in a more stable team.

What do you think?

Our Zintro experts would love to hear from you!  Post your question for industry experts here.  Are you a subject matter expert?  Sign up as a Zintro expert to start generating free leads for your business.