Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, a woman who is maybe as equally-known for her push for women empowerment as her being a leader inside the world’s largest social network, was shocked by a prediction Richard Branson recently made about the equality of men and women inside company boardrooms.
In an interview with Emily Chang on Bloomberg, the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) executive and the billionaire founder and leader of the diversified giant Virgin Group were talking about Ellen Pao and the trial she recently lost to her former employer, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.
During the course of the interview, the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) COO was asked whether she saw herself in the shoes of Pao, now the interim Chief Executive Officer of popular site Reddit, during the much publicized trial. She tells Chang that she indeed saw that she and other women across industries saw their own experiences there in the trial. She also tells Chang and Branson that she even wrote a whole book about experiences like Pao’s.
Sheryl Sandberg then goes on to say that what is happening is that the business world has systematic stereotypes and systematic biases against women. Sandberg explains that for men, likeability and success are correlated. For women, the opposite holds true, she says, because as women get more successful, more powerful, they is less liked.
This is when Branson chimes in. He says that one interesting thing that came out at a dinner he was in along with other leaders like Sandberg was that some women said that they were not invited to go on, for instance, business trips because of the American laws where the men are worried about sexual harassment laws. This leads to all the men going on the business trips and the women are left behind, he says.
“But if I were to give just one radical suggestion, because I don’t actually think we are going to get to a situation where boardrooms [have equal men-to-women ratio] for another hundred years,” Branson began, to which viewers can clearly see a gasp coming from Sandberg and even Chang who both reacted to the prediction.
Nonetheless, Branson made it clear to the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and the Bloomberg host that he is not against equality in the boardroom.
He adds, “But the way to get there is to do what Scandinavia has done – and I know that a lot of women don’t agree with this – but I just think you have to say, ‘Any new company that sets up from today must have at least 50% women on the board.’”
In this interview, Sandberg talked about how excited she is about the potential of video advertising not only for her company’s top and bottom lines but also for the benefit of small business. Branson also told Sandberg that he would like to steal Facebook’s egg-freezing benefit for women. Sandberg also made it clear that she does not intend to go into politics in the near future, to which her fellow leader agreed. Branson also noted in the interview that he thinks Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)’s decision to stop its work-from-home policy for employees is mistaken.
Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management owned about 2.35 million Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares by the end of the October to December 2014 quarter, a substantial 524% increase quarter over quarter.
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