Sheryl Sandberg looks to small businesses as the next source of growth for Facebook. The Facebook COO says websites are expensive and hard to build, but a facebook page can replace a traditional web site for small business. It will connect them with their customers directly and easily.
Small business, medium business, SMB–there are 20 different names for it–but this is the source of economic growth. It really is. If you look at the job creation numbers in the United States, you look at them in Europe, the majority of job creation happens through small business. And people don’t fully understand that or appreciate it in a world where economic growth is so important and job growth is so important. Just personally, my family immigrated here. My grandfather had a paint store. It’s what put my mom through college. Small business is part of my family history.
Big businesses have always had a lot more voice. They can afford advertising, they can afford marketing. But for small businesses, being able to quickly and cheaply connect to customers is a big deal. Thirty-five percent of small businesses don’t have a website. That’s because they are expensive and hard to do and not obvious. Small businesses are typically run by one person, the owner, who has few resources, no time. But a Facebook page is easy and fast and gives you a webpage not just on desktop but, more important, on mobile. It’s free, and it takes three minutes.
What kind of success has the Lean In movement generated?
We have 24,000 circles in 117 countries. We were hoping for a thousand. We grow by a hundred a week. They’re growing because they help people accomplish real things. Our data says the great majority of people who join a circle will make a really positive life change for themselves within six months. They get raises. They get new jobs. They run for office. They change the dynamics they have with their partners. Some of them drop their boyfriends and decide they want new boyfriends who will be more equal partners.
Over and over, the circles actually give people strength. The thing about women is you really get a lot of messages of “Why?”–“Are you sure you want that job? Don’t you want kids one day?” I always ask an audience: “If you’re a man, please raise your hand if anyone’s ever said, ‘Should you be working?'” Never had a hand. Do you know how many times women are asked if they should be working? There’s this assumption that women can’t work and have families, which is a really unfair assumption given that almost 70 percent of mothers have to work to support their families. So we have this fundamental assumption that women can’t do what men have to do.
think we also suffer from the tyranny of low expectations. In 2012, women got 20 percent of the seats in the U.S. Senate. And all of the headlines kept screaming out, “Women take over the Senate!” And it was like, wait a minute– 50 percent of the population with 20 percent of the seats is not a takeover. But our expectations for female leadership were so low that we were writing stories about how there was more than one woman in the Senate bathroom. Go look it up–it was an unbelievable press cycle. I just kept watching this thinking, “You’ve gotta be kidding.”
Look, I think as a country and as a world, we are not comfortable with women in leadership roles. Our discomfort with female leadership runs deep. We call little girls bossy. We never really call little boys bossy, because a boy is expected to lead so it doesn’t surprise or offend.
Making the case that diversity is good for business results is really important, and I think that’s getting through. What I don’t talk about and other people don’t talk about is, it’s not that we want equality just for equality’s sake, even though we do, and it’s the right thing to do. It’s that we also want diversity and equality because it will make our organization and other organizations perform better.