For years, Fb Chief Working Officer Sheryl Sandberg inspired ladies to climb the company ladder by selling themselves within the office and asking for extra assist from their spouses at dwelling.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s departure marks end of an era for women in tech
Sandberg, 52, introduced Wednesday that she was stepping down as COO after a 14-year stint at an organization she helped remodel from a social media web site for faculty college students right into a mammoth digital-advertising enterprise. Sandberg, who has positioned herself as a champion of girls within the office, mentioned she could be leaving Fb to spend extra time together with her household and on her philanthropic work.
“I’d wish to assume the profession I’ve had and the profession of different feminine leaders evokes ladies to know that they’ll lead,” she mentioned in an interview with The Washington Submit. “Should you have been rising up 100 years in the past, you wouldn’t have identified a single lady in enterprise. In case you are rising up at the moment, you already know some. I hope my daughters are going to develop up in a world the place there are much more.”
As one of many wealthiest self-made feminine billionaires on the earth, Sandberg was a logo that ladies may make it to the highest of a male-dominated business like Sillcon Valley tech corporations. Her recommendation to ladies who needed to ascend larger of their careers was merely to “lean in,” or be extra assertive at their jobs, which turned a cultural phenomenon. Her 2010 TED Discuss, a best-selling e book and the nonprofit basis Lean In propelled her right into a sort of company stardom that few chief working officers get pleasure from whereas being second-in-command at their corporations.
Sandberg was amongst Fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s most trusted deputies for years, and other people spoke of the 2 informally as “co-CEOs” — making her one of many few high-powered ladies on the helm of a tech large.
“This can be a huge loss when it comes to simply having ladies represented in Silicon Valley in a significant means,” mentioned Crystal Patterson, a former senior supervisor at Fb and present managing director on the lobbying agency Washington Media Group. “There isn’t one other Sheryl.”
Through the years, Sandberg has struggled to retain her voice as a champion of girls as Fb, which modified its identify to Meta final 12 months, continued to be overrun with political controversies throughout her tenure. Sandberg has confronted criticism over, amongst different issues, viral covid misinformation and the position the corporate performed in spreading former president Donald Trump’s false claims that 2020 presidential election was rigged.
“Her worth as a messenger undoubtedly shifted over time with the fortunes of the corporate,” Patterson added.
Whereas ladies have made small positive aspects in ascending to the very best ranges of energy in companies, the C-suite remains to be dominated by males. In 2021, 26 % of all CEOs and managing administrators have been ladies, up from 15 % in 2019, in line with a report by the ladies’s advocacy group Catalyst.
The motion to get extra ladies into higher roles in company America has stalled lately. Confronted with powerful decisions about the right way to stability profession aspirations with the calls for of caring for family members throughout pandemic-induced shutdowns, many ladies leaned out. A 2021 report carried out by McKinsey in partnership with LeanIn.Org discovered that 1 in 3 ladies had thought-about leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers, which represented a rise from the share of girls who mentioned the identical through the first few months of the pandemic.
And feminine staff, particularly in racial minorities, have been typically overrepresented in careers that have been hit arduous by the pandemic. A current report by the Nationwide Ladies’s Regulation Heart discovered that there have been nonetheless 1 million fewer ladies within the labor power in January 2022 than there have been in February 2020, whereas males largely recouped their job losses throughout that time-frame.
Sandberg mentioned within the interview with The Submit that she thinks the Lean In marketing campaign can and can survive her departure from Fb.
There are another high-profile ladies in tech who may decide up the place Sandberg left off. Final 12 months, Fidji Simo left her position as head of the Fb app to turn out to be the chief government of Instacart. Deborah Liu, additionally a former Fb government, turned the CEO of Ancestry.com. Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube, and Safra Catz holds that title at software program firm Oracle.
Fb’s chief authorized officer, Jennifer Newstead, and chief enterprise officer, Marne Levine, have not too long ago taken on greater roles on the social media large.
“There are nonetheless a ton of points for ladies in tech, however Sheryl leaves an extended wake of feminine execs that may decide up this mantle,” mentioned Katie Harbath, a former Fb worker and CEO of the consulting agency Anchor Change.
Sandberg’s picture as a company feminist was first burnished after the 2010 TED Discuss, wherein she chronicled what she noticed as the explanations ladies have been nonetheless struggling to compete with males in shifting up the company latter. She argued, amongst different issues, that ladies typically held themselves again by not taking credit score for their very own wins or not searching for out extra formidable alternatives out of concern they wouldn’t have the ability to handle the calls for of their dwelling lives.
“Nobody will get to the nook workplace by sitting on the aspect, not on the desk,” she mentioned. “And nobody will get the promotion in the event that they don’t assume they deserve their success.”
Sandberg adopted up the speak with a 2013 e book, “Lean In: Ladies, Work and the Will to Lead,” that helped thrust her into the highlight. Later, she began the Lean In basis, which helps arrange networking teams for ladies to assist each other of their careers.
However Sandberg’s concepts rapidly confronted criticism for failing to have in mind the extra obstacles confronted by ladies of coloration and those that don’t work in company environments. Others argued she was downplaying the systematic obstacles that preserve ladies out of boardrooms and overplaying their degree of private company within the matter.
Amy Nelson, founder and co-CEO of a co-working start-up for ladies referred to as the Riveter, mentioned she hopes Sandberg will give attention to bringing higher fairness to the dialog Lean In began.
“She was speaking about one thing earlier than lots of people when it comes to the necessity for skilled ladies to have a group and advocate for each other, and I feel Lean In performed a essential position in altering that,” Nelson mentioned. “However I additionally assume it’s very clear that the power to lean in is a privilege largely held by White ladies, and the dialogue leaves behind ladies who don’t have cash or connections or assist.”
“I feel we have to have that dialog,” Nelson continued. “Wouldn’t or not it’s good if Sheryl led that dialogue?”
The Lean In technique additionally confronted philosophical challenges from the #MeToo motion, which highlighted the pervasive tradition of sexual harassment and sexism that persists for even extremely profitable ladies of their careers.
Nonetheless, on Wednesday, ladies inside and out of doors Fb congratulated her on making the transfer.
“I feel that she began that motion,” mentioned Debbie Frost, a former Fb government and present adviser to Lean In. “I don’t assume that leaves when she leaves. In reality, I feel that the impression that she will be able to have on extra corporations and extra organizations now can be what’s going to be probably the most profound and thrilling factor.”
As for Sandberg’s future, she mentioned it’s not but absolutely mapped out. She’ll get remarried quickly and proceed to boost her children, she mentioned in a Fb submit saying her departure.
“I’m not fully positive what the longer term will convey — I’ve realized nobody ever is,” she mentioned within the submit. “I do know it should embrace focusing extra on my basis and philanthropic work, which is extra vital to me than ever given how essential this second is for ladies.”