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Facebook’s New Family Leave Policy Follows Theme of Makers Conference: Be Bold

I attended the Makers Conference last week in Rancho Palos Verdes and still have goose bumps from how inspiring it was. If you’re not familiar with the event, it’s a forum that brings together hundreds of trailblazing women leaders with a goal of not only elevating the conversation about women in the workforce, but also raising challenges and solutions through storytelling and action-oriented sessions.

This year’s theme encouraged all attendees to Be Bold—and as I listened to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speak on “A New Workplace” session, it struck me just how true to that theme Facebook has been.

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The Ultimate Mentor to Women: Dave Goldberg

As I heard the news about Dave Goldberg’s death last weekend, I joined many in feeling the sadness of this loss—to his wife Sheryl Sandberg, his family and friends, his colleagues at the company he headed as CEO (SurveyMonkey), and to the technology industry, where Goldberg inspired many.

The loss also extends to women in the industry, and to anyone who cares about women’s leadership development, because of the important role that Goldberg played in prioritizing women’s advancement over the decades of his career—long before it became fashionable to do so.

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Which Tech Companies Are Ahead of the Curve in Women’s Leadership?

As we’ve seen from a flurry of media reports over the past few months, tech companies are beginning to “out” themselves for lack of diversity. Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and LinkedIn are among a growing number of tech firms whose voluntary disclosures on demographic data reveal industry trends of a workforce that’s still primarily male and white—especially at the executive levels and in actual technology jobs. (See “The Genie Is Out of the Bottle for Silicon Valley: Lack of Diversity.”)

Based on SHAMBAUGH Leadership’s research, which includes working with a number of tech organizations as well as other industries, a number of identifiable factors lie behind these concerning trends. Outdated and non-inclusive cultures, poor relationships with managers, and a lack of mentors and sponsors have all contributed to the industry’s apparent failure to appropriately recruit, advance, and retain women and minorities.

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The Genie Is Out of the Bottle for Silicon Valley: Lack of Diversity

As the U.S. technology sector has boomed, women and minorities have largely been left behind. This is what’s clear in the wake of recent disclosures on workforce demographics from a handful of tech companies.

On June 25, Facebook became the latest tech giant to publicly release its demographic data, which indicated that men represent nearly 70% of all global employees. Worse yet, of the 31% of women in the company, a mere 15% work in jobs that are actually technical. (Women hold 47% of non-technical jobs.) When it comes to the top of the pyramid, although Facebook boasts COO Sheryl Sandberg, more than three-quarters of senior-level jobs (77%) globally are held by men. Among these senior-level executives in the U.S., nearly three-quarters (74%) are white, leaving just a quarter of the pie for everyone else (19% are Asian, 4% Hispanic, 2% black, and 1% two or more races).

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Another Woman Leader Emerges!

Last week was a big week for Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. She testified in front of Congress regarding the ignition problem that spurred the eventual recall of millions of GM cars. Watching the media cover her widely anticipated visit to Capitol Hill, I began to realize that while this was a crisis moment for GM, it was also an unparalleled opportunity for Mary Barra to demonstrate her personal brand of leadership.

Leading up to the day of her testimony, I received numerous calls from the media asking how I thought she would and should handle herself and even if I thought she would be treated any differently because she was a woman. My reply is always the same: it’s not really a gender issue but rather it’s about taking personal responsibility and doing the right thing.

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Moving From Conversation to Action

Are you just giving "lip service" to the issue of women's advancement?

There has been a great deal of debate recently about Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In (Knopf). Kudos to Sheryl for re-igniting the conversation about the shortage of women in senior leadership and for drawing national attention to this incredibly important topic. Now that we have debated the whos, the whys and the hows, it’s time to move forward. It’s time to move from conversation to action – to stop talking about advancing more women into senior leadership and start doing something about it.

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Integrated Leadership is a Three-Legged Stool

When I decided to write my latest book, Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results (McGraw-Hill, December 2012), my goal was to start a dialogue about the lack of women at the top levels of leadership. According to a recent New York Times article, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and former top State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter have the same goal. The need for this dialogue is clear: after decades of talking about gender diversity, women are still grossly under-represented in the senior leadership ranks. Even though women make 80% of purchasing decisions, comprise 51% of the workforce and hold close to 50% of all managerial positions in the Fortune 500, they represent as little as 15% of the executive suite and corporate boards.

In her forthcoming book Lean In (Knopf, March 2013), Sheryl Sandberg argues that the primary reason women are not advancing to the senior ranks is because they often inadvertently sabotage themselves. On the other side of the debate is Anne-Marie Slaughter, who places the blame for the lack of women in senior leadership with the organizations who employ them and with policymakers who fail to enact legislation to support them.

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