FACEBOOK’S BOARD IS ENTIRELY MADE UP OF WHITE MEN
Facebook is not just a company. According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the social network is a social mission—to “make the world more open and connected.” And he has succeeded. Facebook had 845 million monthly users at the end of December 2011, making it the world’s largest social network. It has sparked new forms of revolutionary activism (see under: Arab spring) and enabled an unprecedented freedom of communication.
When Facebook goes public, it will be likely be the biggest tech IPO ever. And the leaders of this corporate behemoth will have a whole lot more power when it comes to reaching into our lives, and the lives of our children. So it makes sense that those leaders all represent the perspective of the white male, because that group has an excellent history of creating organizations that are sensitive to the needs of other groups, like women and people of color. Oh, wait…
Maybe the board just reflects Facebook’s totally white and male users?
According to Facebook’s very own COO, Sheryl Sandberg, “The social world is led by women.”
By the numbers, she is absolutely right: 58% of Facebook’s users are women, and female Facebookers participate in 62% of sharing on the network and 71% of daily fan activity. Women also made up 53% of users on Zynga, which accounted for $445 million of Facebook’s revenue in 2011.
It would make good business sense for Facebook to represent the majority of its users among the people making its business decisions, right?
Wrong. Women may lead the “social world”, but the Social Network takes direction exclusively from seven white male board members.
Maybe it’s because women are terrible at business?
88.7% of Fortune 500 companies have at least one woman on their boards. And they’re benefitting from that decision: the Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentage of female directors have a 62 percent higher return on invested capital than companies with the lowest percentage of female directors. Studies have shown that when boards include women, attendance at board meetings improves, audits occur more frequently, and equity—the shareholders’ investment in the company—grows.
Facebook’s board is unusual, because Mark Zuckerberg controls 57 percent of the voting shares: he calls the shots. But he says he values his directors’ advice—regardless of their gender. “I’m going to find people who are helpful,” Zuckerberg told Ken Auletta of the New Yorker, “and I don’t particularly care what gender they are or what company they are. I’m not filling the board with check boxes.” And Zuckerberg has apparently never met a woman he can see as more than just a “box”.
So it’s because there are no “helpful” women?
Only 8 percent of tech start-ups are run by women, after all. But four of Facebook’s seven directors—the majority—are not even in tech. One is a former university president. Another runs a newspaper. Of all these professions, not one director was a woman?
The problem is not the absence of qualified women. There are plenty. Clayton Rose, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School acknowledges that although some argue that there are not enough women who have the skill sets to serve on boards, “there’s nothing to that case.”
Okay, then, that’s ridiculous
That’s what we think. So we’re launching the FACE IT Campaign, to tell Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook’s board that we think their board makeup is a joke! We’re bringing together a coalition of businesswomen, community leaders, and comedians to poke fun at Facebook until they change their ways. Join us!
Facebook’s default profile is a white male, but all of its board members don’t have to be.