Even though she’s the chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg chose not to talk about social media at a recent speaking engagement. There was something more important on which she wanted to focus.
At TEDWomen, a conference organized by the non-profit TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), Sandberg discussed the global lack of women leaders.
“Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world,” Sandberg said. “The numbers tell the story quite clearly—190 heads of state, nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13 percent are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top, C-level jobs, board seats, tops out at 15-16 percent. The numbers have not moved since 2002, and they’re going in the wrong direction.”
Sandberg noted that in order to boost these numbers and allow women to make an impact, women must support one another in staying in the workforce. She offered three pieces of advice to help women succeed in their careers.
First, Sandberg said, women must sit at the table. Not only must they be actively involved in decision-making at the workplace, but they also must not underestimate their own abilities.
Second, Sandberg said that women must make their partners real partners. Women must share household and family responsibilities with their significant others, she said, and they shouldn’t sacrifice their career ambitions for duties to which they feel they’re obligated.
Finally, Sandberg told audience members, don’t leave before you leave. She noted that when women begin planning their families, they begin backing out of opportunities for advancement. She urged women to continue volunteering for new projects and responsibilities at work, and to return to work after maternity leave.
Watch Sandberg’s speech here.