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Finally, Facebook Adds A Woman To Its Board

Finally, Facebook Adds A Woman To Its Board

Yesterday, Facebook announced that Sheryl Sandberg, its chief operating officer for four years, will be the first woman on its board of directors.  Sandberg is the second-in-command at Facebook, after CEO and funder Mark Zuckerberg; she was previously a high-ranking executive in sales and marketing at Google and, before that, the chief of staff for Lawrence H. Summers at the Treasury Department.

As Zuckerberg said in a statement, “Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years”; he cited her “understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards” as reasons for her being a “natural fit” for Facebook’s board.

Zero Women on the Board: A Glaring Omission

The lack of any women on Facebook’s board of directors has been routinely pointed out, especially as the social network giant has become a publicly traded company. Former customer service employee Katherine Losse’s new book, The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network, chronicles numerous “frat boy,” generally offensive shenanigans at the company in its earlier days.

As Business Week observes,

… [Sandberg's] appointment came on the same day that the Committee for Economic Development issued a report lamenting the lack of women directors in the U.S. (they held just 16 percent of Fortune 500 board seats last year) and warning that America’s inability to do something about it could harm the country’s competitiveness.

A Catalyst study has highlighted that companies with three or more women on their boards do about 43 percent better in shareholder returns. Having women on the board “can apparently inspire a company to become more committed to good causes,”  says Business Week.

Prior to adding Sandberg, Facebook was in the 20 percent of the largest US companies without women on their board, even though women constitute 58 percent of Facebook users.

“Ho-Hum” Response

The response to Sandberg’s appointment to Facebook’s board has been muted and, as Business Week says, “ho-hum.” As Tech Crunch says, many thought she should have been on the board some time ago. Sandberg’s experience and connections — she has served on several public boards, including those of Starbucks and Walt Disney — and has been a leading advocate for women as leaders in the corporate workplace for years.

While cheering Sandberg’s new seat on Facebook’s board, analysts are suggesting that the company should by no means consider itself done adding women. As Gail Romero, CEO of MBA Women International, says to Business Week, what would have been really impressive” would have been if Facebook added three women directors. Indeed, some think that half of Facebook’s board of directors should be women.

In a statement, Sandberg said that

Facebook is working every day to make the world more open and connected. It’s a mission that I’m deeply passionate about, and I feel fortunate to be part of a company that is having such a profound impact in the world.

While offering her congratulations, Facebook users need to keep up the pressure on the company to keep diversifying its board whose other seven members are white and male, Zuckeberg being among them. Recent glitches like Facebook’s changing of everyone’s email to an @facebook.com one are missteps a company with Facebook’s profile — and one that users feel a deep tie to because of what they use its products for — cannot afford.

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23 comments

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6:18PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Facebook allowed news cameras into their Seattle offices yesterday. I was struck by the fact that in the room they showed were about 50 men and one, count 'em, one woman. I wish I could talk my family and friends into dumping face book.

4:15PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Gasp! Next thing you know, we'll have women in Congress and the Senate. Proportionally. Or not. Pardon me while I practice singing "It's a Man's World". May we all be kinder to ourselves and each other.

2:33PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

great start

1:38PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

thank you

12:41PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Good for her and Facebook, but with millions more in this country out of work, I could care less how many women are on the Facebook board! Worrying about that isn't putting food on the table or enriching anyone's life, especially those struggling just to make a living. What's next, we gonna count how many Asians, African American's and Hispanics are on the board? This story isn't worth the word doc it was written in.

9:51AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Yes, they should put people on their board simply for being women.

8:19AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Now if we could only get women asking questions at the presidential debates. We're more than half of the country and deserve a voice.

8:19AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Wow Ian F, ever heard of Essentialism?
"The more women in power the better.
They are more responsible and far less corrupt than males."

Margaret Thatcher, Imelda Marcos, Carrie Fisher ... Ring any Bells?

8:11AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

only one?

7:51AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Gee! Does this mean,that Facebook's stock will now go up? Doubtful,very doubtful...

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