Monday, February 6, 2012

The Facebook Dilemma

Career blogs and sites were buzzing last week with the announcement that Facebook was going public.  The technical term for this that you may have heard is IPO, which stands for initial public offering. In the official documents that were submitted to the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission Facebook reports that it has 1.7 Billion likes and comments every day.  

I don’t think we need scientific data to prove to us that a large majority of these users are women and that it is women who are commenting, liking and uploading photos over 250 million photos on the site every day.  I am not trying to stereotype but it’s mostly my female friends that are constantly updating me on their whereabouts, and showing me photos of their weekend adventures. Luckily, I am not making this up and a recent study revealed women have an average of 55% more wall posts than men.This means then that a significant portion of the Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising targeted for women.

However, when it came time to select the Board of Directors somehow women were not selected to serve. The story became even bigger because Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg has frequently spoken about the need for more female representation on Boards and in high powered executive positions, she delivered one of the best Ted Talks of 2011, which I wrote about last year, where she described the “ambition gap” which according to her is preventing many women from breaking the remaining glass ceilings.  So without a doubt one wonders what kind of a role she played in selecting the board of directors and if she had no role in the process, we wonder if she called out her 27 year old boss Mark Zuckerberg for the major oversight.  One wonders if they looked around and couldn’t think of anyone. Odd since according to recent data presented in a recent Bloomberg News article, only 11.3 of boards in America are exclusively male. This same article also cited a recent survey which states that diverse boards result in more profitable companies.

This is yet another example of women’s purchasing power being ignored and yet another example of women not doing anything about it. Of course, in a perfect world we would all de-activate our bookfaces in protest. But even as I have that revolutionary thought I wonder if this matters to women? Do we really need women on boards to represent us? What would the world look like if women were equally represented on board? Is there an ambition gap or are there legitimate barriers preventing women from reaching the top?  I will let you all make up your own minds

A new campaign called, 20% By 2020 hopes to rally women from across the country with the goal of increasing the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020. They wrote Mr. Zuckerberg a letter last week in response to their board’s lack of diversity.

Here’s my favorite phrase:
“Maybe your board thinks that because women are so busy socializing on Facebook they're too busy to achieve the necessary credentials for board service.”

The feminist nerd in me was fascinated by this organization and their cool site which gives information on why corporate boards matter to all of us and how we can help ensure diverse representation. Check it out!

I think the fact that we are even noticing that absence of women is a step in the right direction. Now let’s figure out how to get women and racial minorities on board with boards! Get it?
Happy Monday
Betsy Aimee

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