Sheryl Sandberg will soon be leaving Meta’s board after 12 years.

Sandberg, who became Meta’s COO back in 2008 when the company was still called Facebook, stepped down from her executive position in August 2022. “I remained on the board to help ensure a successful transition,” she wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Under [Mark Zuckerberg’s] leadership, Javi Olivan, Justin Osofsky, Nicola Mendelsohn, and their teams have proven beyond a doubt that the Meta business is strong and well-positioned for the future, so this feels like the right time to step away.”

Sandberg will continue to “serve as an advisor to the company” and “always be there to help the Meta teams,” she added.

Sandberg’s election to the board in 2012, four years after she joined the company, was viewed as a big win for diversity. At the time, one of the most high-profile female executives in the tech and business arena became the only woman to get a seat on what had been an all-white-male board.

When she leaves the nine-person board this year, the ratio of the eight remaining members will retain its gender parity by 50-50 male and female.

Meta’s board, at a glance

🙋 Founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg

🙋‍♀️ Former COO Sheryl Sandberg

🙋‍♀️ Peggy Alford, executive vice president of global sales at PayPal

🙋 Marc L. Andreessen, general partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz

🙋 Andrew W. Houston, CEO and chairman of the board of directors of file hosting service Dropbox

🙋‍♀️ Nancy Killefer, senior partner at management consultancy McKinsey & Company

🙋 Robert M. Kimmitt, senior international counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

🙋‍♀️ Tracey T. Travis, executive vice president and CFO of skincare and beauty products firm Estee Lauder

🙋 Tony Xu, co-founder and CEO of local e-commerce company DoorDash

Quotable: Sheryl Sandberg on diversity and inclusion

Endless data show that diverse teams make better decisions. We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use, and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products. That’s not true of any industry really, and we have a long way to go.”

Sheryl Sandberg, in a 2014 USA Today interview

What about racial diversity on Meta’s board?

While the gender imbalance has been evened out, Meta’s board is still lacking when it comes to racial diversity, especially the representation of Black employees.

Sandberg’s own election didn’t do anything to increase racial diversity on the board. But the issue was seemingly top of mind for her. In 2017, Sandberg told Congress that Facebook would add a Black member to its board.

The next year, Facebook made good on its promise and brought on then American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault. But two years later, in 2020, Chenault reportedly left over differences with CEO Mark Zuckerberg on governance and political policies. (The reason Chenault gave publicly was that he was leaving for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with baron Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway.)

For Facebook — now rebranded Meta for the company’s all-in bet on the metaverse — the lack of Black representation is not just a board-specific problem, but a company-wide one.

As of 2022, Black employees have the smallest share of leadership roles at the company (4.9%), lagging well behind their white (57.6%) and Asian (28.6%) counterparts. Two years before that, a manager and two unsuccessful job candidates filed a legal complaint accusing Facebook of a “pattern or practice of discrimination against Black employees, including in evaluations, promotions, and pay.”


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