Sheryl Sandberg worries #MeToo could cause backlash
The Facebook executive shared her own encounters with sexual harassment and urged firms to put in place clearer policies to investigate allegations.
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
A spotlight has been placed on sexual harassment and assault in the past month, with women around the world using the hashtag "MeToo" to share their experiences.
In a lengthy Monday
post, Facebook Chief Operating Officer
addressed Silicon Valley's diversity issues, and noted a concern that the movement could backfire.
Sandberg said women don't need to just be hired, they also need to be mentored. "Four years ago, I wrote in Lean In that 64 percent of senior male managers were afraid to be alone with a female colleague, in part because of fears of being accused of sexual harassment." This, Sandberg said, is a factor that hurts women in the industry.
"The percentage of men who will be afraid to be alone with a female colleague has to be sky high right now," she wrote. "Whether [equality] means you take all your direct reports out to dinner or none of them, the key is to give men and women equal opportunities to succeed."
The 1992 presidential race was once summed up in a pointed phrase: “It's the economy, stupid.”
Today, as headlines are...
Sandberg, a former executive at Google, pointed to instances of unwanted sexual advances from people in the industry, but noted they never came from her bosses. A power imbalance was the issue, she said, explaining "in every single one of these situations, they had more power than I did."
She outlined six steps in which organizations can help fight the issue:
Develop workplace training that sets the standard for respectful behaviour at work
Treat all claims -- and the people who voice them -- with seriousness, urgency and respect
Create an investigation process that protects employees from stigma or retaliation
Follow a process that is fairly and consistently applied in every case, both for victims and those accused
Take swift and decisive action when wrongdoing has occurred
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
"We have to be vigilant to make sure this happens," wrote Sandberg. "I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: 'This is why you shouldn't hire women.' Actually, this is why you should."
It's not Sandberg's first time voicing about issues related to women in the workplace. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed in October, she pointed out that gender gaps at work remain despite more companies committing to gender diversity.
Watch this: Fired Google engineer defends controversial memo
Rebooting the Reef: CNET dives deep into how tech can help save Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.