A little over a month after Facebook went public (in a very bad way), the company is finally getting some positive PR. Facebook announced Monday that COO Sheryl Sandberg has been appointed to the board of directors. And not a moment too soon, either.
The appointment comes just months after women’s rights organization Ultraviolet launched a signature campaign to urge Facebook to add some diversity to its exclusively white, male board (although, to be fair, Mark Zuckerberg is Jewish, and the Jews haven’t exactly had a smooth ride the last 3000+ years). The organization collected some 53,000 signatures in less than 48 hours.
Co-founder Nita Chaudhary tweeted Monday: “Sheryl Sandberg on Facebook board. Good step but not enough. Thanks to @Ultraviolet members for getting us this far!”
Chaudhary explained in a statement: “Putting women on the boards of major corporations should be a no-brainer and standard business practice. Sadly, it is not. We hope this is a first step for Facebook and in the coming months more women will be added to their board.”
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on why the company is now adding Sandberg to the board. Sandberg has been with Facebook since 2008 and has since become a pretty visible face for the company, having lectured widely on women and business. Most recently, she spoke on the “ambition gap” among women at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Despite all the talk of the Silicon Valley Boys’ Club, Facebook and its all-white-guy board have actually been in the minority among Fortune 500 companies, 90% of which have at least one woman on their board of directors, according to a December 2011 Catalyst study.
But let’s not just hail this as a victory for women. This is also—obviously—good for Facebook. Sandberg oversees sales, marketing, business development, legal, human resources, public policy, and communications. Anyone, male or female, who knows the ins and outs of Facebook to that extent will benefit the company by being able to make decisions for it on the board of directors.
Sandberg came to Facebook with a mighty powerful CV. Prior to Facebook, Sandberg was VP of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, where she built and managed the online sales channels for advertising and publishing and operations for consumer products worldwide. With her BA and MBA from Harvard, Sandberg began her career with the World Bank and went on to serve as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Treasury Department under Bill Clinton.
She also serves on the boards of The Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development, and V-Day (the organization founded by “Vagina Monologues” creator Eve Ensler to combat violence against women). She has been ranked one of the 50 "Most Powerful Women in Business" by Fortune Magazine. Check out Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk on why we have too few women leaders.
Image source: guim.co.uk