Sheryl Sandberg once had to call hotel security after a man she spurned at a conference turned up at her door
- Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most high-profile women in business.
- In a post on Facebook, Sandberg said that even she had experienced sexual harassment on several occasions while trying to do her job.
- In one incident, she declined to go for dinner with a man at a conference — and he later turned up outside her hotel door, banging to be let in.
- Sandberg said harassment was usually a power play, and that the problem would only get better when more women had senior positions in government and business.
Despite being one of the most powerful women in the world, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has experienced multiple instances of sexual harassment while doing her job.
In one scary incident, Sandberg said she had to call security after a man started banging on her hotel door.
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In another, she talked about a man putting his hand on her leg.
Sandberg outlined her experiences in a Facebook post about harassment and changing the culture in companies and government where, she said, harassment was all too rife.
She didn't name names or dates when it came to her own experiences. She also said she hadn't actually worked for any of the predators — but they had harassed her while she was trying to do her job.
Here's what she said (emphasis ours):
"At 48 years old, I’m lucky that I’ve never been sexually harassed or assaulted by anyone I worked for. The fact that this could be considered lucky is a problem in itself, but based on the numbers, I am lucky. I’ve only ever worked for men, and all of my bosses have been not just respectful, but deeply supportive.
Still, like almost every woman – and some men – I know, I have experienced sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexual advances in the course of doing my job. A hand on my leg under the table at a meeting. Married men – all decades older than I – offering “career advice” and then suggesting that they could share it with me alone late at night. The conference where a man I declined leaving a dinner with came to my hotel room late at night and banged on my door until I called security."
It isn't clear how much of this occurred while Sandberg has been working at Facebook, where she has been chief operating officer since 2008.
In her post, Sandberg quoted a famous phrase from the 1992 US presidential run-off: "It's the economy, stupid" and came up with her own take on sexual harassment: "It's the power, stupid."
She wrote: "As I've become more senior and gained more power, these moments have occurred less and less frequently. But they still happen every so often, even in my current job – but only ever with men who, in that moment, feel that they have more power than I do. That’s why I’m absolutely convinced that it’s the power, stupid."
She added: "Ultimately, the thing that will bring the most to change our culture is the one I’ve been writing and talking about for a long time: having more women with more power."
Sandberg called for clearer workplace policies around harassment, including training that made punishment and reporting processes crystal clear. She also said men in senior positions should not be afraid to spend time with female employees, but instead mentor and advise them so that more women would be promoted.
Sandberg's comments coincide with the "Me Too" movement, where hundreds of women — high-profile or not — revealed that they had undergone sexual harassment at some point in their lives.
The movement started with revelations in November that the well-known Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had allegedly harassed and raped many aspiring actresses during their careers. The news triggered global outrage, and other stories soon followed, implicating: former Amazon Studios head Roy Price; actor Kevin Spacey, NBC news anchor Mark Halperin, and many others.
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