On Sunday, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, penned a semi-lengthy, op-ed about the recent glut of sexual harassment/assault allegations that have come out against a number of men in positions of power. In her write-up, Sandberg chipped in her two cents on the issue, which should be deemed credible given her successful ascent up the career ladder (at least in comparison to other Facebook posts you may come across, which were perhaps penned by an inexplicably opinionated family member, or a loud-mouth from high school you forgot you were "friends" with).
Thinking back on her career, Sandberg wrote:
At 48 years old, I’m lucky that I’ve never been sexually harassed or assaulted by anyone I worked for. The fact that this could be considered lucky is a problem in itself, but based on the numbers, I am lucky. I’ve only ever worked for men, and all of my bosses have been not just respectful, but deeply supportive.
Still, like almost every woman – and some men – I know, I have experienced sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexual advances in the course of doing my job. A hand on my leg under the table at a meeting. Married men – all decades older than I – offering “career advice” and then suggesting that they could share it with me alone late at night. The conference where a man I declined leaving a dinner with came to my hotel room late at night and banged on my door until I called security.
I didn’t work for any of these men. But in every single one of these situations, they had more power than I did. That’s not a coincidence. It’s why they felt free to cross that line.
After writing that these instances have become less frequent as she's been promoted, she also said that they still happen, though only in situations where she's dealing with a man who feels he's in a more powerful position than she is. However, from there, she pivoted to the lasting workplace changes she hopes are put into place due to the recent outpouring of scandals that were once kept in the dark:
Every workplace should start with clear principles, then institute policies to support them. First, develop workplace training that sets the standard for respectful behavior at work, so people understand right from the start what’s expected of them. Second, treat all claims – and the people who voice them – with seriousness, urgency, and respect. Third, create an investigation process that protects employees from stigma or retaliation. Fourth, follow a process that is fairly and consistently applied in every case, both for victims and those accused. Fifth, take swift and decisive action when wrongdoing has occurred. And sixth, make it clear that all employees have a role to play in keeping workplaces safe – and that enablers and failed gatekeepers are complicit when they stay silent or look the other way.
She finished her post by calling for more companies to hire women, especially for positions with clout:
Ultimately, the thing that will bring the most to change our culture is the one I’ve been writing and talking about for a long time: having more women with more power.
The world has always been run by men, and it still is today. Only thirteen countries and 6 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. Just 13 percent of police officers are women, and only a few hundred are police chiefs. And less than 20 percent of the U.S. Congress is female.
These numbers reveal a power structure that has marginalized women and others for far too long. We need to see more women in these roles – and more people of color, LGBT individuals, and members of religious minorities and underrepresented groups of all kinds. We are seeing what happens when power is held nearly exclusively by men. It gives rise to an environment in which, at its worst, women are treated as bodies to be leered at or grabbed, rather than peers entitled to equal respect.
It wouldn’t solve all the problems we face if more women were in power – although I believe we could get quite a lot of good done. But one thing’s for certain: many fewer people would be groped and worse while trying to do their jobs. And that would be a major step in the right direction.
You can read her entire post over at Facebook.