Friday, February 03, 2012

Facebook (and Sheryl Sandberg), I'm Disappointed in you...BIG time


I was planning a nice, fluffy blog post today until Chef sent me an article on Jezebel and then BAM! I was sucked in.  The story itself was bad enough, but the comments were HORRIBLE. And I have to say that the older I get the more pissed off I get about women in the workplace. I used to get touchy about the word "feminist" but now I think it's just a word men warped to use in the place of "bitch" when it becomes convenient.

Anyway, the article talks about Facebook's board of directors and how they are predominantly rich white men and do not have a single woman on board. This pisses me off for several reasons: 1) more than half of Facebook users are women. 2) Sheryl Sandberg is a business idol of mine,  and has been a vocal advocate of gender equality--but apparently that doesn't apply to the company she leads 3) people do not realize how boards are set up.

Here's what pisses me off: Boards are not jobs--they are not typical positions that get hired for. They are appointed by leaders of a company and then by the board of directors themselves. Having women on boards has proven to be profitable and some countries, like Norway, have even set government quotas on how many board seats should be inhabited by a woman. So to say "Why would they just give a seat to a woman when it takes away from a more qualified man?" is bullshit. The company can set how many board members it wants and there are no set qualifications--there are rich white people that sit on boards as their job now that they're so rich they don't need to work. Does that make them more qualified than someone who holds a leadership position actively? Does wealth equal qualified? Nope.

Also the purpose of the board is to provide perspective and leadership to a company or organization. I find it hard to believe that balanced perspective can be achieved if the majority of customers and a good chunk of the work force are not represented.

But even having women on boards doesn't really solve the problem: women in leadership positions. If there aren't more women in higher positions then pickings for boards can be slim. (However, I find it hard to believe that Facebook-which could scour the earth to find board members--could not find one -ONE- woman who was qualified).  Riddle me this: I worked at a place where about 80 percent (no lie) of the staff was women, but about 75 percent of the leadership positions were filled by men. How can that happen if we're nurturing staff and growing talent within? It doesn't. But I can tell you from experience that there were few men that would "deign" to work there unless they were in a managerial position--which to me seems like horse shit.

There's also the misconception that sexism doesn't exist any more. It does. I've actually literally heard some members of the board of a company I worked for say they were happy they had just hired that female because she could be more effective "because she's hot. That's gonna open a lot of doors for her." That one statement was enough to shatter my illusions of sexism and was enough to prompt me to lose 80 lbs. I bet no one ever told Wozniak that he would be so much more effective at Apple if he lost a few pounds or was hot.

It happens every day and to ignore it only makes it worse. To think that there aren't smart, successful, powerful female leaders in the world and workplace is just stupid. We just need to open our eyes and minds to it. And by "we" I mean some big companies that are willing to step up--guess that doesn't mean Facebook.

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