American women across the country, if not the world, are wondering what Marrisa Mayer was thinking when she announced no more remote working arrangements for Yahoo! employees. As a PR veteran, I can’t help but wonder whose idea this was and what was the strategic thinking behind it? Was the board of directors privy to this policy? Was this really her idea? When did Yahoo! first think that this was a good idea? And did a PR advisor recommend or support this?
There are several issues at play here which make this PR nightmare for Yahoo! a bit more complex, but most important of which is the appearance of moving back in time as a tech company in one of the most advanced technology ages we’ve ever seen. Even more, if this strategy was designed to mask a layoff, the PR problem is even worse than we thought. Your internal message is also your external message in today’s transparent world. What you say inside your offices goes outside your offices. Couple transparency with technology and forward thinking and Yahoo!’s announcement is nonsensical.
If I were advising Yahoo!, here are the pieces of advice I would give:
Time matters. Yahoo!, you cannot stay quiet on this. Tell your story or the world will tell it for you.