Marissa Mayer has drawn more haters than defenders for her decision to forbid Yahoo employees from permanently working from home. But on Thursday, she gained the support of one of the corporate tech world's most prominent players: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
While not specifically commenting on the substance of Mayer's decision, Sandberg defended the Yahoo CEO's right to make it in a feature story in Time magazine by Belinda Luscombe.
Sandberg points to how quickly people criticized her friend Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, who went back to work two weeks after having a child and recently appeared to make Yahoo’s work practices a lot less flexible. “No one knows what happened there,” she says. “I think flexibility is important for women and for men. But there are some jobs that are superflexible and some that aren’t.” Regardless, she believes no man who ordered the same policies would have come under fire the way Mayer has.
While the new rule at Yahoo permits "occasionally [having] to stay home for the cable guy," banning working from home for any length of time has an outsized effect on working parents, many of whom are women. Sandberg, a mother herself like Mayer, would be one of the first to point this out.
However, by saying "No one knows what happened there," Sandberg may be tacitly acknowledging that telecommuting was being abused at Yahoo. Several ex-Yahoo employees complained to The Huffington Post and Business Insider that the work-from-home system was being milked. In either case, it looks like Sandberg is sensibly upset when, as she sees it, a fellow female executive is lambasted in the media in a way her male equivalent wouldn't be.