'More women with more power' a solution to sexual misconduct, Facebook exec says

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 07:13:48 AM. The way to stop the wave of sexual harassment in the workplace is to hire and promote more women, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg said. Sandberg also warned against the potential backlash against women as more of them come forward with claims of sexual harassment. “The percentage of men who...

The way to stop the wave of sexual harassment in the workplace is to hire and promote more women, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg said.

Sandberg also warned against the potential backlash against women as more of them come forward with claims of sexual harassment.

“The percentage of men who will be afraid to be alone with a female colleague has to be sky high right now,” Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “Doing right by women in the workplace does not just mean treating them with respect. It also means not isolating or ignoring them – and making access equal.”

Sandberg, 48, who worked in government and at Google before becoming Facebook’s chief operating officer in 2008, said she once had to bolt a lock on a hotel door at a conference to escape an unwanted sexual advance.

PHOTO: Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook, speaks during a session at the Congress centre on the second day of the World Economic Forum, Jan. 18, 2017, in Davos, Switzerland.Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesSheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook, speaks during a session at the Congress centre on the second day of the World Economic Forum, Jan. 18, 2017, in Davos, Switzerland.

“Married men – all decades older than I – offering ‘career advice’ and then suggesting that they could share it with me alone late at night,” Sandberg wrote. “The conference where a man I declined leaving a dinner with came to my hotel room late at night and banged on my door until I called security.”

While none of the men she felt harassed by were her ever her boss, she said, the men all shared in common that they “had more power than I did.”

“That’s not a coincidence,” she wrote, “It’s why they felt free to cross that line.”

Sandberg, who sparked a global conversation with her 2013 book, "Lean In," which encouraged women to demand more in the workplace, said the way to confront sexual harassment in the workplace is to hire, promote and mentor more women.

“Ultimately, the thing that will bring the most to change our culture is the one I’ve been writing and talking about for a long time: having more women with more power,” Sandberg wrote in the post, which has been shared more than 1,000 times.

PHOTO: Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during a news conference at Station F, a mega-campus for startups located inside a former freight railway depot, in Paris, Jan. 17, 2017.Christophe Morin/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesSheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during a news conference at Station F, a mega-campus for startups located inside a former freight railway depot, in Paris, Jan. 17, 2017.

"It wouldn’t solve all the problems we face if more women were in power – although I believe we could get quite a lot of good done," she wrote. "But one thing’s for certain: many fewer people would be groped and worse while trying to do their jobs. And that would be a major step in the right direction."

Sandberg’s Facebook post comes as dozens of high-profile men across the fields of media, government and entertainment have lost their jobs or been suspended after being accused of sexual misconduct.

The #MeToo movement that was reignited in October after dozens of women accused movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct has kept the issue of sexual harassment in the forefront of public discourse.

Weinstein, through a spokesman, has repeatedly denied "any allegations of non-consensual sex.”

"I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: 'This is why you shouldn’t hire women,'" Sandberg wrote. "Actually, this is why you should."

PHOTO: Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, attends the Cannes Lions Festival 2017, June 22, 2017 in Cannes, France. Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images for Cannes LionsChief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, attends the Cannes Lions Festival 2017, June 22, 2017 in Cannes, France.

Sandberg cited statistics to illustrate what she says is a problem that comes with just having men in power, writing, "Only thirteen countries and 6 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women ..."

“We are seeing what happens when power is held nearly exclusively by men,” she wrote. “It gives rise to an environment in which, at its worst, women are treated as bodies to be leered at or grabbed, rather than peers entitled to equal respect.”

Sandberg also wrote that companies have to do more than just hire women. They need to institute policies that support women, she said, and make sure women are not isolated in the workplace.

"Whether that 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," she wrote. "This is a critical moment to remind ourselves how important this is. So much good is happening to fix workplaces right now. Let’s make sure it does not have the unintended consequence of holding women back."

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