Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote a thoughtful post addressing how sexual misconduct is all about power dynamics, and what companies and people can do to help fix that. Sandberg succinctly outlines what so many women have experienced and the change they want to see. Above all, she believes that one of the most important things for men in senior positions is not to shy away from working with and mentoring women.
Urging women not to lose the momentum they have gained as countless people have shared their stories, Sandberg calls for systemic, lasting changes. The goal is to protect everyone regardless of whether they are climbing the corporate ladder or working in a low-paid position. "We need to end the abuse of power imbalances due to gender – and race and ethnicity, too. We must not lose this opportunity," she adds. She outlines six things she believes will make a meaningful and impactful change when handling sexual harassment claims. They may seem simple, but their implications are powerful. Perhaps the most important point she makes in her plan for change is this: sexual harassment is everyone's problem, not just women's.
Sandberg shares some of her own experiences building her career. While she praises the men she has worked for as being "not just respectful, but deeply supportive," she is not without stories of men crossing the line. She reflects on moments of unwanted sexual advances, older men offering to share "career advice" alone and late at night, even a man at a conference banging on her hotel room door after she refused to go to dinner with him. Sandberg believes that the common thread throughout her experiences and those of others lies in the power dynamics, writing, "In every single one of these situations, they had more power than I did. That’s not a coincidence. It’s why they felt free to cross that line."
The writer of Lean In warns women of the potential of a negative response to this historic moment for women's rights. "I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash," Sandberg writes, adding that she has overheard men responding to the shift in power dynamics as a reason why they shouldn't hire women. "Actually, this is why you should," concludes Sandberg.