After graduating from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Sheryl Sandberg then went on to work at the World Bank, become Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and then on to Silicon Valley in 2000 to work for Google. Today, she is the COO of Facebook, business leader and advocate for women’s equal rights, and a mother of two.
“We’ve ceased making progress at the top in any industry anywhere in the world … In the United States, women have had 14% of the top corporate jobs and 17% of the board seats for 10 years. Ten years of no progress. In those same 10 years, women are getting more and more of the graduate degrees, more and more of the undergraduate degrees, and it’s translating into more women in entry-level jobs, even more women in lower-level management. But there’s absolutely been no progress at the top. You can’t explain away 10 years. Ten years of no progress is no progress.”
Sandberg has become an advocate for women’s rights and equality in the workplace. She gave a TED talk in 2011 that has now been viewed over 4 million times. She hopes to encourage women to become leaders and provide ways to help them overcome obstacles in the workplace. Her book “Lean In” recounts some of her own personal experiences and offers advice for women who want to pursue top positions in their field.
“I just believed. I believed that the technology would change people’s lives. I believed putting real identity online — putting technology behind real identity — was the missing link. I’d worked on leprosy and malaria in India [at the World Bank] and asked myself the question: Why do we let 2 million children die every year around the world for not having clean water? Because they’re faceless and nameless. So, for me, Facebook looked like it was going to solve the problem of the invisible victim.”
In 2008, Sandberg became the COO of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg told The New Yorker in an interview that there are not many people that can both manage a big organization well and be analytical. He wanted her on the team for these reasons.
“We try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting — are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”
Sandberg has been lauded for her financial successes at Facebook, but her leadership style has improved the company as well. She wanted to encourage an open office culture that was focused and productive.
“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids. I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”
Sandberg is known for her sharp work ethic but also her strict schedule. She believes that there should be an even work life balance to be successful and happy and she has demonstrated this by leaving work at the same time every day and spending time with her family.
“Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.”
Sandberg enlisted some help from friends like Condoleezza Rice, Beyoncé, and Diane Von Furstenberg and started the “Ban Bossy” campaign. She created a PSA that encourages young girls to take the lead without worrying about being “bossy” and she actively campaigns against even using the word.