News Column

Facebook Criticized for Not Having Females on Board

June 27, 2012

Brandon Bailey

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook named Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to the board of the giant social network, which has been criticized for not having any female directors before now.

Sandberg also will continue as CEO Mark Zuckerberg's second in command, running virtually all business operations at Facebook, which she has done since she joined the fast-growing startup in 2008. Previously she was a top advertising executive at Google (GOOG) and before that served as chief of staff for U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

The 42-year-old Sandberg is widely viewed as a strong advocate for women in business and the tech industry. She has served on boards at Disney and other companies; and the fact she was not on Facebook's board has drawn public criticism from several advocacy groups.

"It's great news. It's about time," said Susan Stautberg, co-founder of Women Corporate Directors, an international organization that promotes female membership on corporate boards. Citing reports that a majority of Facebook's users are women, Stautberg said that as a director, Sandberg will

contribute "brains, savvy and a good sense of the market."

Stautberg's group was one of several that criticized Menlo Park-based Facebook in recent months for not naming Sandberg or any other woman to its board as the company prepared for its first public stock offering.

Facebook, which completed its IPO last month, has grown rapidly since Zuckerberg launched the service in his Harvard dorm room eight years ago. In a new book, excerpted last week in The Wall Street Journal, former employee Katherine Losse described finding a frathouse atmosphere when she joined the company in 2005.

Sandberg worked to change that atmosphere, according to Losse, who wrote that soon after Losse complained to Sandberg about a senior manager who was known for propositioning women employees, Sandberg arranged to have the man quietly demoted.

In a statement released by the company, Zuckerberg said of Sandberg, "Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years. 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 company."

Facebook's board:

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder

Marc Andreessen, partner in Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm

Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff under President Clinton

James Breyer, partner at Accel Partners venture capital firm

Donald Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Co.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook

Peter Thiel, managing partner at Founders Fund venture capital firm.

Source: Facebook

Source: (c)2012 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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