Bloomberg’s Caroline Hyde held a conversation with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, around the challenges facing Facebook. The audience also got the opportunity to learn about Sheryl the person, and an insight into the leader, who is clearly admired and popular.
Sheryl strongly believes in the purpose and vision of Facebook, and it is this belief and loyalty that keeps her motivated to stick it out, even with the recent and ongoing controversy. She sees the platform as an amazing way to give people a voice, a way to share stories, and come to together as a community for good. She shared stories about how it has saved and enriched lives. While she understands that Facebook has a lot to fix and do better, she continues to believe in the fundamental power of it to do good.
However, the not so good, and ultimate firestorm over Facebook’s potential privacy and data breach violations has been personally difficult for her. “Look this has been hard. As anyone who wakes up in the morning, working hard and trying to do the best they can, being attacked and being attacked personally is not something I experienced before, and it’s definitely hard,” Sheryl said.
She spoke about the backlash, in particular the Russian interference with the US election, hideous threats, and the posting of hate and racist doctrine.
They are working with governments around the world to safeguard and put regulations in place. They take down over 1 million accounts a day, and aim to halt the spread of fake news, and any content that is hateful, discriminatory or of a bullying nature. There is no place on Facebook for any of that, said Sheryl.
When asked about what people are using Facebook for these days, she mentioned that people are moving more towards individual and inspiration personal stories, and experiences from a select group (friends, family and community) and more on-to-one messaging. Basically, Facebook realised that people should be sharing minimal information
When asked about what she has learnt in recent years that influenced her as a leader, she spoke candidly about the challenging times dealing with the grief following the sudden death of her husband 4 years ago. Working through this pain, and the learning that comes from that has changed her dramatically, she said. She celebrates her 50thbirthday this year and sees growing old as a gift. She believes this personal development and high levels of resilience is also helping her navigate the troubled times Facebook has experienced of late. She feels an enormous responsibility, to make things better problems, ensure people are protected and re-gain trust from the consumers. We are ushering in a new era – and very much part of writing the new rules, said Sheryl.
Sheryl was also asked how things have changed from a diversity perspective, especially since her book “Lean in” was launched 6 years ago. She feels that while progress has been made with the ‘me too’ movement to help stop the harassment of women, she said we also need to make sure we don’t ignore women. An alarming statistic she learned recently is that 60% of business men in the US were afraid of meeting with women individually, whether that be for a business dinner or lunch, or travelling with women on their own. This can be deferential to women’s careers and it’s important to champion women’s careers and engage in conversation with them, and mentor women professionally. Sheryl is active in supporting women through the Leanin. Org and recently in conjunction with Cannes Lions announced the launch of the Glass Lion: The Lion for Change; an award which specifically recognises work that challenges gender bias and shatters stereotypical images of men and women which remain rooted in marketing messages.
The conversation with Sheryl ended with her reaffirming that there is so much good to come from Facebook, and that people really want to help each other. Let’s make the invisible, visible and put people together online.