To Sheryl Sandberg I tip my hat. I’m leaning in. Correction, I’m leaping in. No, I’m diving in the deep end. I’m sprinting in – full speed ahead! Why you may ask? Because for all the critics who say Sandberg is too “out of touch with reality,” “has blinders on,” or “is too rich,” I say she is one of the best role models we have for working women right now.
As the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Sandberg is a powerhouse in the Silicon Valley tech industry. She recently authored her first book, Lean In, where she examines the root causes behind why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential in the workplace.
Critics Gonna Criticize
Lean In is currently topping the charts for Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists, but Sandberg has picked up a whirlwind of backlash from critics. The primary argument claims Sandberg’s advice is only applicable to middle and upper class women who have had the privilege of going to university and earn a high salary. They say that not all women had the silver spoon opportunities she did.
Sandberg isn’t Wonder Woman and it’s true that not all the advice she gives can be applied to every single one of us, but the same goes for anyone else offering advice. I encourage you not to sulk about the opportunities you did not have; I encourage you to listen to her advice, embrace it, modify it and make it work for you.
A conversation about why the percentage of women in leadership in the US and abroad has barely budged in the past ten years has to begin somewhere. And sometimes it takes real heated debate to wake people up and find a solution.
This could be it.
Who better to start the buzz than a powerful woman who is encouraging us to learn and not only make a difference for ourselves, but also for the generations of young professional women to come?
Sandberg wrote Lean In after the overwhelming response to her TED talk last year. While the book is based on her personal story, it’s offered as a template for us to start building our own narratives of success. Examples of such beginnings can be found on leanin.org, a nonprofit organization she launched alongside the release of her book, where all men and women are invited to share the challenges they face in the workforce and at home.
At the end of the day, Sandberg’s mission is to lead the way for gender equality, so let’s not leave her standing high and dry. I have decided to learn in, and I encourage everyone to lean in together to make a change.
Next week I’ll talk about the global benefits of gender equality in the workplace. Stay tuned!