Facebook gained a few more friends yesterday when it named Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to its board of directors. With this appointment, Sandberg will be the first and only female to serve as a director at Facebook.
A longtime advocate of women’s empowerment in business and beyond, Sandberg’s appointment comes after months of protest from women’s right groups and investors over Facebook’s lack of female representation on its board, especially when 58% of the site’s users are women.
As we recently reported, having women in the top levels of a company’s leadership can have a number of positive effects on its economic performance.
Sandberg came to Facebook in 2008, leaving a successful run as the VP of Online Sales and Operations of Google. In the past, she’s also served as Chief of Staff to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers as well as on the boards of Starbucks and Disney. In 2011, she ranked #5 on Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
Sandberg’s appointment comes the day before the release of a highly anticipated new book, “The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network,” a tell-all account written by Mark Zuckerberg’s former (female) ghost writer that describes in detail the company’s infamous “frat boy” culture.
In an excerpt published in The Wall Street Journal, she writes that Sandberg handled issues of gender conflict (for instance, a “senior manager known to proposition women in the company for threesomes”) quietly and effectively. Even without a position on the board, she was undeniably formidable. Who knows what difference she’ll make with her own board seat?
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