Transparency Talk

Category: "Gender" (2 posts)

Eye On: Giving Pledger & Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
February 9, 2016

(Melissa Moy is special projects associate for Glasspockets. For more information about Sheryl Sandberg and the other Giving Pledgers, visit Foundation Center's Eye on the Giving Pledge.)

Sheryl Sandberg photoThis Bay Area philanthropist is passionate about gender equity and continues to “lean in” for women.

Sheryl Sandberg’s education and professional experience have helped cultivate her philanthropic interest in empowering women, global health and poverty, and the environment.

Through a recent public filing, we learned that the Facebook Chief Operating Officer, 43, has donated $31 million worth of Facebook shares to the Sheryl Sandberg Philanthropy Fund, a donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable.

Based on Sandberg’s giving interests, the majority of this latest gift will likely support women’s empowerment, particularly Sandberg’s own initiative, Lean In, and the Lean In Foundation, which are both committed to “empower[ing] all women to achieve their ambitions.” 

Spurred by the success of Sandberg’s bestselling, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, the Lean In Foundation seeks to inspire and support women through its online community, free expert lectures, and local peers groups called Lean In Circles.

Sheryl Sandberg:

  • Facebook Chief Operating Officer since 2008
  • Became first female board member at Facebook in 2012
  • Author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
  • Founder of Leanin.org
  • 2015 Forbes Magazine rankings: #16 America’s Richest Self-Made Woman; #8 The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women; #1741 Billionaires
  • TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013 and 2012
  • Board member: Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development, and V-Day
  • Resides in Menlo Park, California
  • Personal net worth is $1.3 billion

Professional Path to Philanthropy

While studying economics as an undergraduate at Harvard University, she met her mentor and thesis adviser Larry Summers.  She graduated with honors in 1991, the same year that Summers became chief economist at the World Bank.  As Summers’ research assistant for two years at the World Bank, Sandberg worked on various health projects in India, including Hansen’s Disease, AIDS and blindness.  

After earning her MBA at Harvard, Sandberg again teamed up with Summers, who was now Deputy Treasury Secretary under President Clinton.  As Summer’s chief of staff, Sandberg focused on debt forgiveness in developing countries; she continued in her role when he became Treasury Secretary. 

In 2001, Sandberg joined Google, where she helped develop the tech company’s philanthropic work, while heading its advertising and sales operations. 

“We wanted to do things that matter, not that were easy…We wanted to innovate, and we wanted to be disruptive,” Sandberg said of Google’s business and philanthropic principles during an annual gathering of philanthropists. 

Sandberg expanded Google’s giving principles so that it extended outside typical philanthropic boundaries, where charity generally stays within communities.  By focusing on worldwide issues – such as global health and poverty and climate change – Google’s philanthropic work could have a greater impact.

“We wanted to do things that matter, not that were easy…”

Since 2008, Sandberg has been a tremendous force at Facebook, where she helped the tech company scale its operations and expand globally.  By 2012, Facebook made its initial public stock offering, and Sandberg became the first woman on the company’s board of directors.

In addition to overseeing sales and business development, marketing and communications, Sandberg also expanded Facebook’s philanthropy.  Under her leadership, Facebook also highlighted organ donation; the addition of the status button helped spike the number of organ donor registrations.

Philanthropic Work

With her strong background in global issues, economics and philanthropy, it’s not surprising to see the evolution of Sandberg’s philanthropic philosophy.

Sandberg and her late husband, David Goldberg, founder and CEO of SurveyMonkey, joined the Giving Pledge in 2014.  Like Giving Pledge movement leaders Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the couple pledged to donate the majority of their wealth during their lifetime.

The couple frequently advocated for gender equity and openly spoke about their support for shared earning/shared parenting marriage, whereby spouses equally share financial, family and parenting responsibilities.

Goldberg passed away in an accident in 2015.  In a heartfelt letter, Sandberg shared the importance of men leaning into their families.  Even in her grief, her passion for gender equity is evident, and she points to the benefits of gender equity for both men and women.

Sandberg has regularly leveraged her passion and influence to support causes she cares about.  In the Bay Area, Sandberg is co-chair of the Stand Up for Kids campaign, which supports the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

The Menlo Park resident sits on the board of directors for Women for Women International, which helps women survivors of war become self-sufficient through microloans and job training; Center for Global Development, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit thinktank focused on international development; and V-Day, a global movement dedicated to ending violence against women and girls.  Sandberg is also on the board of the Walt Disney Company.

In 2013, Sandberg’s Lean In Foundation gave $415,000, according to tax returns. The gifts included $250,000 to Women for Women International; $80,000 to Stanford University for the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research; $50,000 to V-Day; $25,000 to support the Open Field Foundation’s publication of “The Truth About a Woman’s Nation: Powerful, but Powerless”; and $10,000 seed money for the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, a gender-focused research-and-action organization.

Empowering Women

Sandberg’s engagement in gender equity issues dates back to her Harvard days when she co-founded Women in Economics and Government.  Today, she regularly speaks on gender inequities, from TED talks to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.  In 2015, Sandberg addressed U.S. Air Force Academy cadets on gender bias in the military.

In 2014, Sandberg and Lean In sponsored the Ban Bossy, a TV and social media advocacy campaign dedicated to banning the word “bossy” due to its perceived negative impact on young girls.  Celebrities including Beyonce, actress Jennifer Garner and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice contributed to the campaign’s video spots.

With her growing portfolio of philanthropic interests, from Lean In to her Fidelity fund, Sandberg is well positioned to be a major voice on gender and economic equality and the environment for years to come.

In the spirit of openness and transparency, it will be interesting to see if Sandberg, like her boss Mark Zuckerberg, will open up about the how and why of her philanthropy.  Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan recently launched the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative detailing the couple’s philanthropic plans.

Given Sandberg’s passion for global change and empowering women, we look forward to seeing her next philanthropic milestones and how she continues to inspire others.  

--Melissa Moy

A Gender Data Revolution
April 7, 2014

(Yinebon Iniya is manager, International Data Relations at the Foundation Center.)

Iniya-150With today’s technology, the public’s appetite for transparency and tracking outcomes has only increased. There is a growing demand for philanthropic players with specific interests in health, education, art, and human rights to provide metrics that show progress, especially in a world that is looking beyond the Millennium Development Goals, to the post-2015 Development Agenda. The Foundation Center, which continues to increase its data on global organizations, understands that the key to progress is to cultivate partnerships that help us do more than just acquire grantmaker data. Partnerships help us understand and frame key issues, providing us with unique opportunities to collaborate effectively and create ideas together.

In some cases, these collaborations become a web site, such as WASHfunders, which the Foundation Center created with seeding funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as a one-stop shop for funding and needs-related data and information for donors, policymakers, and stakeholders interested in water, sanitation, and hygiene. Another example is BMAfunders, a project of the Open Society Foundations and the Foundation Center that facilitates engagement, collaboration, and strategic decision making in the field of black male achievement.

But what about gender-related issues? Data 2X, announced in 2012 as a partnership between the UN Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the U.S. Government, and the office of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has the following goals:

To advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and further global economic and social gains through improved data collection and analysis that can guide policy, better leverage investments and inform global development agendas.

Data 2X created a report that identifies five key gender-related areas that need to be addressed: health, education, economic opportunity, political participation, and human security. The report suggests improving data collection by compiling information from various sources, including micro-level surveys, administrative records, and census data. The report also mentions that big data and mobile technology can fill many of the gaps in collecting information such as access to financial services, distance traveled for work, remittances, and connections with others while working away from home.

Earlier this month in New York City, Data 2X helped organize a roundtable discussion, New Strategies for a Gender Data Revolution, which consisted of two panels from statistical organizations that delved into these issues. The first panel featured Mayra Buvinic of the UN Foundation Data 2X team, Marcia Quintslr of Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Ola Awad of Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and Lina Castro of the Philippine Statistical Authority.

One key challenge is to empower users—from women to governments, policymakers, foundations, NGOs, local organizations, universities, and other statistical organizations—to utilize the data in ways that benefit them.

The second panel included Pali Lehohla of Statistics South Africa, Imelda Musana of Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Félix Vélez Fernández Valera of the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI), and Neil Jackson of the Department for International Development (UK).

While each member made their points about new data collection and compilation, there was an acknowledgement about the existing data that could help provide additional answers. Ms. Bulvinic stated that the emphasis was really on the data quality, availability, openness, efficiency, and usability.

Mr. Lahola was jovial yet frank as he recounted a story analyzing the unfairness of something as simple as the bathroom sizes between men and women, and he used that as a basis to make his point about unconscious biases that exist, possibly distorting the understanding of statistics.

The most resonating comment of the afternoon was made by Ms. Musana, who indicated that while Uganda collects gender-related data, it is important to know the eventual outcome of data collection and how it is being used. She cited that in some cases they run statistical reports just because they are asked to—although she noted considerable progress has been made in data compilation.

All the panelists agreed that many gaps remain; some of the speakers added that one key challenge is to empower users—from women to governments, policymakers, foundations, NGOs, local organizations, universities, and other statistical organizations—to utilize the data in ways that benefit them.

The discussion was chaired by Ruth Levine, director of the Global Development and Population Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who indicated that it was imperative to get input from the primary producers of economic and social statistics, and it is important for them to have the capacity to initiate and sustain their programs.

Will these ideas lead to a web site dedicated to gender-related issues—similar to the web sites for WASHfunders and BMAfunders? Judging from the conversation at this event, it is long overdue.

-- Bon Iniya

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