Women's rights group demands Facebook add women to its board

Summary:Ultraviolet, a women's rights group, is yet another party asking Facebook to put women on its board. The organization has launched a petition to convince the social networking giant.

Ultraviolet, a women's group that states its goals are to fight to expand women's rights and combat sexism everywhere, has launched a new campaign demanding Facebook appoint at least one woman to its board before the company goes public in the coming weeks. The group has launched a petition which you can sign here: Tell Facebook: Putting Women on the Board is Good Business. The news comes soon after the launch of The Face It Campaign this week, which also urges Facebook not go public with a board of directors featuring only white men.

Facebook's board of directors currently includes former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, The Washington Post Company chairman and CEO Donald E. Graham, Peter Thiel of Clarium Capital and Founders Fund, as well as Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (the board's chairman).

"The fact that a company as large as Facebook with a massive global reach does not have a single woman on their board is nothing short of shameful," Ultraviolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a statement. "Facebook owes it success and makes a ton of money off of its women users. Women are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the sharing that happens on the site. In addition, women account for more than 70% daily fan activity on the site which is a huge source of revenue for the company. Facebook has a problem and they need to solve it before they go public. Mark Zuckerberg should live up to his company's mission statement and appoint at least one woman to the board today."

Ultraviolet sent the following letter to its 300,000 members:

Dear Friend,

Facebook has a problem and you can help them solve it. Mark Zuckerberg recently wrote that part of Facebook's mission is to build tools that will help create the "direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time." [1]

Unfortunately, Zuckerberg doesn't extend this philosophy to the way he runs his own business.

The majority of Facebook users are women--58%. [2] Women are also responsible for 62% of the sharing that happens on the network and make up 71% of the daily fan activity on the site which is a huge source of revenue for Facebook. [3] Zynga accounted for $445 million of Facebook's profits last year and boasts 60% female users. [4]

But in a few weeks, when Facebook goes public it will not have a single woman on its board--a decision that's not only in conflict with Facebook's own mission but one that's also just bad for business.

That's why we're joining the Face It campaign and launching a petition to urge Facebook to invite at least one woman to join its board before it goes public. Past experience shows that Facebook cares a lot about its brand and will respond to pressure if enough of us speak out. And together, all of us have proven that when we take action together, we can have a big impact. Can you sign this petition today so we can deliver it to Facebook and the media next week?

http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/facebook/

Not having a single woman on Facebook's board makes no sense.

Here's why: Companies with women on the board make more money. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between boards with female representation and increased returns on sales, investments and equity. [5] And companies with women on the board function better. Studies have also indicated that women improve the ways that boards function and make decisions. [6]

Women are also widely seen as the future of the tech industry. Take Pinterest as an example, they've only been around for a year and are already one of the ten largest social network services. They credit their meteoric growth to their 97% female users. [7]

With a white, male board, Facebook is behind the curve.

This problem is easily solvable--there are countless qualified women, and it's smart business to have women on Facebook's board. But Facebook isn't going to act unless there's an outcry.

We're organizing a big delivery of these petitions next week and a major media campaign to go with it. But we need your voice with us for this to work. Please sign today.

http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/facebook/

Thanks for speaking out,

--Nita and Shaunna, UltraViolet

Sources:

1. Mark Zuckerberg’s Letter to Investors: ‘The Hacker Way,’ Wired, February 1, 2012

2. No Women on Facebook Board Shows White Male Influence, Bloomberg, Feb 2, 2012

3. Why Women Rule The Internet, TechCrunch, March 20, 2011

4. Zynga is worth $445 million to Facebook, TechRadar, February 2, 2012

5. No News Is Bad News: Women's Leadership Still Stalled in Corporate America, Catalyst, December 14, 2011

6. No News Is Bad News: Women's Leadership Still Stalled in Corporate America, Catalyst, December 14, 2011

7. Where The Ladies At? Pinterest. 2 Million Daily Facebook Users, 97% Of Fans Are Women, TechCrunch, February 11, 2012

Two months ago, the California State Teachers' Retirement System told Facebook that a board of directors of seven members is unacceptable, not only because it is small, but because it only features men. A week later, the Institutional Shareholder Services told Facebook that its co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has too much power. Last month, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce applauded Facebook for updating its IPO filing to include minority-owned banks as underwriters.

See also:

Topics: Legal, CXO, Enterprise Software, IT Employment, Social Enterprise

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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