Marissa Mayer took a lot of flak when she nixed telecommuting at Yahoo yet built a private nursery for her own baby next to her office, on the heels of her earlier statement that she intended to work through a meager two-week maternity leave.
This week, however, she announced a decidedly family-friendly policy for Yahoos who become parents: doubling paid maternity leave for mothers (from eight to 16 weeks) plus granting eight weeks for fathers. New parents also can expect to receive a gift of $500 to welcome baby and spend on things like groceries, babysitters, house cleaning, and laundry.
The policy sends the message that Yahoo seeks to keep up with its Silicon Valley peers—especially Google and Facebook—in the competition to hire and retain top talent. It also signals that Marissa Mayer realizes not every working parent, even super-smart Yahoo engineers, possesses her super-human drive, so Yahoo will try to be one of those great places to work—for both moms and dads of newborns.
The dad part of the policy merits notice. It appears Mayer absorbed one key response to Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg's command for women to "lean in" to their jobs and careers. Dads need to lean in at home and share diaper duty, said mothers, journalists, and scholars. That would encourage equally shared parenting particularly and gender equality generally.