Sheryl Sandberg is one of the world’s most famous female leaders, and as Chief Operating Officer of Facebook was the first woman ever to be elected to the company’s board. Working within such a high-profile firm and being female as elevated her profile to that of not just a successful and prominent professional in business, but also an inadvertent spokesperson for women and equalities issues across workplaces, industries and beyond.
This infamy and invaluable experience has led to Sheryl giving a TED Talk back in 2014; and it is now lauded as one of the greatest such talks of all time, helping to shape and develop the way businesses work with women worldwide.
Titled “Why We Have Too Few Female Leaders”, it covers off the root causes of why it is that women are so under-represented in business, allowing for a discussion to be built around it on how to tackle these.
The statistics demonstrating just how few females there are in business are shocking. Worldwide, despite us now living in a world where most woman are able to access much more than basic civil rights and limited career options, it’s still the case that they are not at the top of their game in any field. Of 190 Heads of State across the globe, 9 are women. Just 13% of elected representatives into parliaments worldwide are women. At the top of the corporate world, just 16% of leaders are female and in the non-profit sector, 20%.
Studies have proven a variety of reasons for this to be the case. In a delicate balance between professional success and personal fulfilment, it’s found that women are innately less likeable than men when they reach what is widely perceived as ‘success’ and this unconscious bias toward the gender has knock-on impacts.
Sheryl has a strategy of three parts for women to follow to help combat barriers and obstacles in their way when seeking professional development and fulfilment. We won’t give away what this three-part plan is (watch the talk for yourself!) but it’s worth trying; and encouraging and empowering others to do the same.
Finally, Sheryl points out that men are much more likely to attribute their personal successes to themselves, whilst women tend to point the finger to external factors. This is something most of us are guilty of at one point or another; so next time you catch yourself doing it, retrace your trail of thought and re-consider. No matter your gender, ensure that you give yourself credit where credit is due… and give yourself a pat on the back when you need one!