Dear Yahoo! CEO: Don't Mind Wall Street, It's Full of Chauvinist Pigs
When a man takes a job as CEO, his personal life rarely comes up. And, when it does, it's rarely a factor.
Consider Marc Hurd. He apparently pigged out (a 2010 NY Times story reports on his alleged transgressions) while CEO at Hewlett Packard(HPQ) , but landed firmly on his feet as a top executive and board member at Oracle(ORCL) .
Nobody asked if he might be distracted by the beautiful women who likely populate the halls at Larry Ellison's company. It was never a factor.
If Brian Dunn didn't burn Best Buy(BBY) to the ground, he would have no trouble getting another job. In fact, despite his ineptness, he could probably still land a primo gig in retail. Do you really think the good ol' boys who interview him are going to ask if another female underling might distract from or inappropriately associate with his management duties?
The media, as well as Wall Street, absolutely refuses to talk about Apple(AAPL) CEO Tim Cook's personal life. Felix Salmon, who discussed Cook's sexuality at Reuters appears to be the only major player with the guts and social conviction to get into it.
I understand the reasons why and I even agree. It's personal. Everybody screws up from time to time (Hurd, Dunn). Everybody has potential distractions (Hurd, Dunn). And plenty of people live lifestyles that, while perfectly normal, make others uneasy and, if highly public, could become a distraction (Cook).
I get it. These things should not be issues. They have no impact whatsoever on Hurd, Dunn or Cook's abilities to do their jobs. We talk about these issues -- some of them -- while they're tabloid material, but we proceed to let them fade to the background as the powerful executive moves forward to his next challenge.
If you're a woman, however, chances are you'll face more scrutiny than a man, particularly from Wall Street and the media, and it will take longer for it to fade away, if it ever does completely.