The Facebook Irony

Irony of ironies: Facebook, with more than 800 million users and an outspoken advocate on gender equality in its operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, doesn’t have a single woman on its board of directors.

Taking into account the fact that 58% of Facebook users are women, it translates to roughly 464 million people not represented on the company’s board.

Ms. Sandberg has said that women drive 62% of activity on Facebook in terms of status updates, messages and comment. Women also drive 71% of daily fan activity. Women have 8% more Facebook friends than men, on average, and spend more time on the site.

Facebook has just filed the preliminary prospectus for its initial public offering (IPO).

In his letter to investors, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg states: “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected and give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.”

A social mission? Doesn’t society consist of both men and women? Shouldn’t both genders be represented on the board of a company that has revolutionised the way people (male and female) communicate?

An article on Bloomberg.com on February 2, quotes the reaction of several prominent public figures, including Susan Stautberg, co-founder of New York-based Women Corporate Directors, which promotes female board membership.

“It doesn’t make sense for a company that claims to be so forward looking to not have any women directors,” she said. “If they just have an old boy’s network in the boardroom, they won’t have access to diverse ideas and strategies.”

Facebook is simply not keeping up with the rest of the social network industry - both LinkedIn Corp. and Google Inc., has at least one female board member.

In addition to Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the directors are Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of Washington Post Co.; venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp.; James Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital; Peter Thiel, co-founder of Palantir Technologies Inc. and a fund manager at Clarium Capital LLC; Reed Hastings, chairman and CEO of Netflix Inc.; and Erskine Bowles, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina.