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SANDBERG ON LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

Speaking at the MAKERS conference, put on by the feminist org, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stressed the need for proactive mentoring as a key way to move the business culture into more enlightened and inclusive territory.

At the conference, Sandberg unveiled the results of a new survey, which found that nearly half of male managers are now "uncomfortable" engaging in some of the most basic workplace activities with women, from mentoring to just working alone with a female colleague. On top of that, the number of male managers who feel uncomfortable mentoring women has tripled, from 5% to 16%; and the number of male managers who now feel uncomfortable working alone with a woman has doubled, to 30%. (The survey's findings can be found at leanin.org.)

In response to these troubling revelations, Sandberg and Lean In cofounder Rachel Thomas have launched a new initiative, #MentorHer, which calls on men to mentor women and help them advance in their careers. They then spoke with Glamour's Wendy Naugle about the situation.

When asked what she thinks will make this pivotal moment different, Sandberg answered, I think it has to be different. It’s people recognizing how important this is: that it’s the right thing to do, but that it’s also the smart thing to do. The data is super-clear that more diverse organizations perform better. And we want a world that is safe, that is productive, and it’s going to take using the full talent of the population [to get there].”

Thomas then stated the thesis—that “the call to action is for men to mentor and sponsor women, because we need more women leadership, and it’s imperative for women to get more mentorship to get there.”

Sandberg then offered a very specific course of action. “The numbers just don’t work—there aren’t enough women at the top,” she said. “That’s part of why we are calling explicitly on men to mentor women. Women have to mentor too, but if 94% of the top CEO jobs are held by men, it’s going to have to be men mentoring women. And we have to be sure that this moment is not used as an excuse to invest less in women; it needs to be more.”

Amen.