New campaign challenges lack of women on Facebook board
A new campaign is urging Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, to appoint at least one woman to its otherwise all male, all white board before it launches on the stock market in May.
Expected to become the fifth biggest company in the world, it is predicted to make $100 billion.
But, as the Face It campaign points out, the board members are all white men, including Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, and Zuckerberg himself.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer since 2008, has taken on an increasingly public role in recent months, it has been reported.
When she joined Facebook from Google, there was speculation about the fact that she was stepping into a company — and a Silicon Valley culture — dominated by men.
Colleagues at Google had tried to persuade her against leaving, pointing out that she would not sit on the board of directors.
Despite the fact that women make up 58 per cent of its users and are responsible for 62 per cent of all sharing on the site, Facebook has remained largely male-dominated and has been at the centre of controversy about its policies on issues affecting women.
It initially refused to remove pages that included “jokes” about rape before bowing to pressure as a result of the Women’s Views on News’ Rape: Never Funny campaign. There were also protests after Facebook blocked pictures of breastfeeding women (see WVoN story).
The Face It campaign points out that there are practical reasons for having women on the board, referring to research that shows that companies with more women find that “attendance at meetings improves, audits occur more frequently, and equity—the shareholders’ investment in the company—grows”.
It also points to a recent letter to investors in which Zuckerberg referred to Facebook’s “social mission” to “rewire the way people spread and consume” information:
“We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date.”
If that’s the case, the campaigners ask, “Shouldn’t Facebook’s top management structure be less monolithic, too?”.
“The fact that a company as large as Facebook with a massive global reach does not have a single woman on their board is nothing short of shameful,” Ultraviolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a statement.
“Facebook owes its success and makes a ton of money off of its women users. Women are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the sharing that happens on the site.
“In addition, women account for more than 70% daily fan activity on the site which is a huge source of revenue for the company. Facebook has a problem and they need to solve it before they go public.
“Mark Zuckerberg should live up to his company’s mission statement and appoint at least one woman to the board today.”