SHRM Chicago Keynote Sheryl Sandberg: Men Still Rule the World …

Men still rule the world, says Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg—but I’m not sure it’s going that well. Sandberg, author of best-seller Lean In, delivered her thoughts at SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago.


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In an interview with Adam Grant, Sandberg has made some valid points:
  • As men get more successful, they are more liked; as women get more successful, they are less liked.
  • Résumés with men’s names were much more likely to get callbacks than those with women’s names.
  • Similarly, résumés with “PTA” on them were much less likely to receive callbacks.
  • Similarly, résumés with black-sounding names were much less likely to get callbacks than those with white sounding names.
  • She asked the men in her audience, “How many of you have been called ‘bossy”’ at work?” Few hands were raised. When she asked the women, nearly all the hands went up. The results were similar when she asked about being called “aggressive.”

There is systematic bias, Sandberg says.

Diversity Is the Smart Thing to Do

People say they support diversity because it is “the right thing to do,” but that’s not enough, Sandberg says. Do it because it’s the smart thing to do. Diverse companies perform better, she says.
What about men who now say, “I won’t meet one-on-one with a woman” or “I won’t take female subordinates out to dinner (but I do take the men out)”? That deprives the woman of important mentoring and socializing opportunities. (Mentoring is hugely important, she says.)
Or, how about the company where the socialization consists of deep-sea fishing, cigar bars, and whiskey tastings? Pay attention. And, about the dinners, if you won’t take women, don’t take men, Sandberg says.

Leave Policies

We need public policy changes around leave, Sandberg says. “We’re the only developed country that doesn’t have it. We need it for maternity and family issues. And we need changes to bereavement leave. At Facebook, we’ve recently gone to 20 days’ paid leave for bereavement for close family, and 10 days for extended family.”
You can sell it to the CFO—it doesn’t cost a lot because it’s rarely used.
On a personal note, Sandberg mentioned that she had lost her husband and talked about people who think, “I don’t want to mention someone’s tragedy for fear it will remind them and upset them if I bring it up.” What do they think, Sandberg says—that I’ll say, “Oh, I forgot that my husband died”?

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