I Stand With Sheryl Sandberg

I’m a little worked up today.  Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg seems to have rocked the world with her new book Lean In I’m shocked that her encouragement of women could be controversial.  What’s the controversy about?

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” says Sandberg.

She’s talking about female executives, and I’ve seen the same behavior in female entrepreneurs.  In fact, I write about some of these same points in a white paper about why women run smaller businesses than men.   I developed a deep and substantive workshop specifically to help women look inside at what’s holding them back, to get clear on their expectations, learn to find their voice, embrace their power and stop playing small.  (Stay tuned…coming in April.)

What I find so troubling about the controversy is that it’s female journalists and bloggers criticizing her, implying that she’s “blaming” women.   Blaming them for what?

From Sandberg’s TED talk and what I’ve seen of her subsequent speech at a graduation ceremony, I hear her saying that women sabotage themselves at work in ways that men do not.  She is not denying that some workplace cultures make it harder for women to succeed.  I think there’s a difference between saying something equivalent to, “Let’s take a close look at our own behavior and how we contribute to the problem” and “blaming women.”

Women turning on one another is just one more way we sabotoge ourselves.

I think Sandberg’s LeanIn circles are a great idea.  My company, EWF International, has been creating and facilitating these peer advisory groups for fifteen years . The members learn from one another, through open requests for input and honest feedback.   Notice I said honest, not brutal.  The women are there to help one another, not criticize.

Let’s agree that there is more than one factor contributing to the fact that women still earn only 77 cents on the dollar.  Let’s agree there is more than one factor contributing to the fact that self-employed women earn only 55% of what self-employed men earn.

Then lets’ take responsibility for our side of the street, quit making excuses, and pointing fingers.  Let’s learn to embrace our power, live the lives we really want, and earn what we deserve.  And please, let’s quit criticizing each other on the journey.

6 thoughts on “I Stand With Sheryl Sandberg

  1. Tina Brannon

    hi ya darcie ..

    i totally loved the piece on sandberg but, i didn’t come away feeling anyone was blaming her for anything. i think we women simply care about different issues. doesn’t mean they are wrong or she is wrong.. just different. i love her drive .. won’t want to be her but respect her drive & passion to teach other women who don’t hold the same standards of self worth… i love that about her the most. however, not sure i would trade a billion or two for the time spent as a mother being at their every activity. i also respect women who choose not to work at level of drive and instead have a drive to be the ultimate mother which is a priceless position.

    i think we women need to accept each other for what drives each of us and support that place. it would be a boring world if all women were sandberg .. just as it would be a boring place if all women wanted to be president of the pta and soccer mom of the year!

    xoxo love your passion … tina 🙂

    1. Darcie Harris Post author

      Agreed Tina, it’s all about choosing what we want, recognizing that life is both/and, not either/or. By that I mean not just for each woman individually but having a both/and for all women collectively. What pains me are the snide, insidious comments in editorials and blog posts. Why can’t we simply applaud Sandberg’s efforts to inspire and lift up women who want to be ambitious, at the same time recognizing that there is a bigger picture? Women sneering at each other only make us all look bad. I’ve devoted my career to destroying the stereotype of women gossiping & talking trash about each other (sometimes more covertly than openly) and to creating a community of women who would walk through fire for each other. I’m glad Sheryl is using her time, talents and wealth to doing the same!

  2. Dee Dukehart

    We’ve been saying these things for decades. Remember the women’s movement in the 70s? What’s new is the way Sheryl says it. Our world is no longer a glass ceiling world, and “Lean In” proves we need not only each other, but our self confidence and a commitment to help each other and future generations. Go girl.

    1. Darcie Harris Post author

      Thank you Dee, for reminding us that we need to help each other and future generations too! For those of us older to remember, this was exactly the same conversation we had in the 70’s! Those long granny dresses are back too!

  3. Danielle Ezell

    I totally agree with Sandberg’s statements. Whether woman realize it or not, they sometimes lean back rather than lean in.

    We also make decisions based on “guilt” (frequently unfounded) about family or work/life balance that men may not even consider. An example of this happened in my home a few days ago.

    My husband had a business meeting that started this morning in Dallas and, although I didn’t say a word, I was a little annoyed at first that he left for the meeting at 2 pm on Sunday. You see, I would have NEVER left on Sunday since that intrudes on our “family” time. Instead, I would have gotten my butt up at 4 am and drove on Monday morning to the meeting. In retrospect, that’s really dumb on my part. By going on Sunday, he had the following career advantages:

    1. He drove with co-workers and had time to connect with them on important issues
    2. He met and intermingled with his peers last night during important, informal dinner and networking events
    3. He wasn’t worn out this morning. He was well-rested, sharp and ready for his meetings.

    When I shared this example with my son yesterday as we discussed the Sandberg book, he looked at me like I was crazy. He pretty much said he wouldn’t have cared if I left for a trip on Sunday and was pretty sure he wouldn’t need counseling if I ever did!

    1. Darcie Harris Post author

      Thank you so much for bringing theory to life. This is a great example of what Sheryl Sandberg means, and what I address in my new workshop, The Alpha Mare. I love that you can talk about this with your son too! Next time you have an out of state meeting, you won’t be getting up at four in the morning!


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