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Ultraviolet campaigns to get Facebook to add a woman to its board

April 05, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
(Mark Lennihan / Associated…)

Mark Zuckerberg likes to say Facebook is only 1% of the way there.

When it comes to women sitting on Facebook's board of directors, it hasn't even gotten that far.

Despite having Sheryl Sandberg, one of the world's most powerful and admired female executives, as its second-in-command (and many other highly talented women such as Katie Mitic in its executive ranks), it has zero women on its board.

Ironically, Sandberg has become famous for appearing in high-profile forums to champion the advancement of women in corporate America, provocatively asking: “Is this a stalled revolution?”

The lack of women on the board is more shocking for Facebook than other Web 2.0 companies because more than half of Facebook’s users are women. And women are far more active users of Facebook than men, making them a lucrative demographic for the social networking giant on the verge of a $100-billion initial public stock offering that would not be nearly so big without women's patronage.

Obviously, Facebook is not alone among this new wave of Internet companies. All Things D’s Kara Swisher has drawn the national spotlight to the paucity of women on Web 2.0 boards, well, across the board. Yet the rest of the corporate world seems to find plenty of female talent in Silicon Valley. Sandberg sits on Disney's board, and social media entrepreneur Clara Shih just slid into Sandberg's chair on the Starbucks board.

The Fortune 500 and the tech industry more broadly have done far better. Only about 12% of Fortune 500 boards did not have a female director, according to Catalyst.

Now a political group, Ultraviolet, is adding its voice to the fray. It has launched a campaign to urge its 300,000 members to sign a petition that aims to put pressure on Facebook to add a woman to its board.

“Facebook has a problem and you can help them solve it. Mark Zuckerberg recently wrote that part of Facebook's mission is to build tools that will help create the ‘direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.’ Unfortunately, Zuckerberg doesn't extend this philosophy to the way he runs his own business,” the Ultraviolet letter reads. “In a few weeks, when Facebook goes public it will not have a single woman on its board -- a decision that's not only in conflict with Facebook's own mission but one that's also just bad for business.”

I asked Facebook for a comment on the campaign, and will let you know if I hear back.

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