Facebook’s Brand Personality – The Sandberg Effect

It used to be that when people talked about Facebook, they talked about its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Move over Mark. There is a new personality humanizing the Facebook brand – Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO.

Last year, Sandberg’s speech at TEDWomen created a stir when she explored why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions. You’ve seen these numbers – of 190 Heads of State around the world, only 9 are women. In the corporate world, only 15% of the top leadership positions are held by women. (Those numbers haven’t moved since 2002.) There are more examples – all that either suggest that women drop out or don’t have access.

Rather than focus on the problem, Sandberg offered practical ways to turn things around. Her 3 memorable principles suggest that woman can change the culture by exuding a different attitude about success:

1. Sit at the table–not on the sidelines. That means doing things that are really hard for women – like owning our successes and negotiating for better pay.

2. Make your partner a real partner.
 Women with a significant other and children do 2x the housework and 3x the childcare as their partners. The division of labor among married couples is one of the most difficult to navigate, but creates the foundation for career success and plain old happiness. In households where partners evenly split the workload, divorce rates are lower and sexual satisfaction is higher.

3. Don’t leave before you leave. 
If you’re planning maternity leave, don’t leave before you leave. Keep your seat at the table until it’s time to leave. Too many women take a back seat years in advance (while the men keep moving ahead).

Is Sandberg’s speech changing things? I only have anecdotal evidence. I’m hearing the ripples among younger, 30-something women as they quote the 3 Sandberg Principles.

Changing a culture around gender roles is a slow process. But in any shift of beliefs, it always begins at the grass roots with individuals and percolates upward.

That’s good news for the Facebook brand, and Sandberg…and women.