Sheryl Sandberg Joins Facebook Board Of Directors
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com
Social networking giant Facebook has appointed Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to its Board of Directors, making her the first woman to serve as a director of the company, stifling recent criticism that the company did not have a woman on its board, according to the New York Times.
Chief Executive Officer and company founder, Mark Zuckerberg, in a statement marking the addition of Sandberg, said: “Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook… Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board.”
Sandberg, 42, joined Facebook in 2008, lured away from Google, where she served as Vice President for Global Online Sales and Operations, reports VentureBeat. Her rapid rise up through the ranks is an acknowledgment of the crucial role she has played at Facebook. She has become one of the social network’s most public figures, making regular appearances at various events, such as the World Economic Forum.
Her stature is so prominent in the company that her profile is second only to that of Zuckerberg. Among her attributes was her success in taking Facebook public and serving as one of the company’s most important links to the corporate world.
“Facebook is working every day to make the world more open and connected,” Sandberg said in a statement. “It’s a mission that I’m deeply passionate about, and I feel fortunate to be part of a company that is having such a profound impact in the world.”
Sandberg, who is married and has two young children, has been particularly vocal against women who do not take on potential job promotions because they feel they cannot have both a demanding career and a family.
Sandberg’s appointment comes amid intense efforts by numerous companies to bring women to the corporate board. Women have for years only accounted for a small percentage of directorships, and only accounted for 16 percent at directorships at Fortune 500 companies in 2011, according to Catalyst, a NY group that researches women’s issues.
But on the contrary, big businesses also rarely put an insider on their boards, such as Zuckerberg has done with Sandberg.
Sandberg’s appointment may have also arisen from a letter sent to Zuckerberg in February asking him to add a woman to the company board of directors.
Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, in the letter told Zuckerberg and reported on by the Wall Street Journal: “We are disappointed that Facebook’s board will not have any women.” The letter also noted that evidence has shown that boards perform better when there is more diversity involved.
The advocacy group Face It Campaign also urged Facebook to include women and minorities on the board.
Women’s rights organization UltraViolet, said that while Sandberg’s appointment represents progress, Facebook shouldn’t end with just a single female director.
Job recruiters have said that Sandberg has been enticed for CEO jobs in other tech and media corporations, and she had recently appeared on the wish list for the New York Times CEO position, which the company has been trying to fill since its former CEO retired in December, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Another person familiar with the matter said that Sandberg was never approached by the Times, however.
But, it is likely that her recent appointment to Facebook’s board of directors will keep her deeply vested in the social network.
“She has to be in the top 1 percent of desirable board members out there,” Martha Josephson, a friend of Sandberg’s and a partner at the recruiting firm Egon Zehnder International, told Shayndi Raice at the Wall Street Journal.
It remains unclear if Sandberg has considered other jobs given that her wealth and reputation remain closely tied to Facebook.
John Barrett, managing director of the digital media practice for recruiters Cook Associates in New York, said “Sandberg hasn’t likely pursued other opportunities because her job at Facebook isn’t complete.”
“If her goal is to be the CEO somewhere someday, this (board seat) certainly rounds her out,” he added.
“Sheryl’s a totally natural fit for the board,” said Matt Cohler, a partner at Benchmark Capital who is an adviser to Facebook, in a statement. “She’s been an important part of building and managing Facebook’s growth over the years, helping the company to create long-term value.”
Her time at Facebook hasn’t always been smooth, however. During a commencement speech at Barnard College last year, Sandberg recounted her early days at Facebook when bloggers criticized her, calling her a liar, two-faced, and out to ruin Facebook.
“I cried some when I was alone,” she added. But, “in the end, my best and only response was just to do my job and do it well.”
Sandberg is joining a relatively small board for a company whose market value stands at close to $88 billion. Facebook’s board also includes the venture capitalists Marc Andreessen, James W. Breyer, and Peter A. Thiel; former Clinton administration official Erskine B. Bowles; Washington Post Company chairman Donald E. Graham; and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.