Hormones Matter TM

Should CEO’s Disclose Pregnancy as a Medical Condition?

July 25, 2012  |  Lisbeth Prifogle


Should CEO’s and top executives disclose potentially harmful hobbies and medical conditions? I have near-death experiences every morning and afternoon trying to navigate the <5 mile of interstate driving to/from the office, but I didn’t have to disclose my fears of the open roads at rush hour to any potential employer. Nor have I ever disclosed my dangerous weekend hobbies of videogames, sewing and writing in any interview. Sure, my existence doesn’t really affect the shareholders of my company like the CEO might, but it’s nice to be considered even if you are a peon, right? Of course, if I rise to the top my life would be more noteworthy. But if I get there and decide I’d like to finally start a family, do I have to disclose that information to investors and shareholders?

If the SEC’s rules only state that a company has to disclose an employee’s pregnancy under certain kinds of investigations, why is Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo!, under fire for keeping her pregnancy from shareholders?

It was not a hidden fact. She was upfront with the Yahoo! Board of directors and still got the job. Three hours after the announcement of her appointment as CEO she formerly announced that she is 6 months pregnant, which apparently worries some.

Who is most vocal about their concerns? A woman of course – we are often our own worst enemies – Francine McKenna stated examined the laws and situation in Forbes stating, “Studies show, though, that women in their mid-to-late 30s and 40s may face some special pregnancy risks. Mayer may need more than a “few weeks” and may not be able to “work throughout it,” like she told Fortune.”

Never fear ladies, Virginia Heffernan came to shield the blows in a Yahoo! News story stating, “Pregnancy, lest anyone still wonders, is actually not an illness. It’s a sign of health, and a significant contributor to it.”

McKenna did end the article on a positive note, “So, congratulations on everything, Ms. Mayer! I’ll pray for the best – for you, your baby and the long-suffering Yahoo! shareholders.”

So, what do you think? What should CEO’s and top executives have to disclose? Do their bodies belong to the company the way our troop’s bodies belong to the government (and yes this is a valid statement, we used to joke that we could be punished via the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for getting sunburnt because it was “destruction of government property”). Is pregnancy for a woman over 35 as relevant to shareholders as Steve Job’s pancreatic tumor or Steven Appleton’s amateur piloting which led to his death? Where would we draw the line with full disclosure of our business leaders?