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

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?


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.


Thanks for speaking out,

--Nita and Shaunna, UltraViolet


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

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

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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  • Womens rights group demands Facebook add women to its board

    There is no need. If Facebook is running smoothly and at an approx. $102b valuation they would have to be crazy to shake things up in the board right now.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • piss off

    You don't get "equal representation" on the board of a company by pissing and moaning about equality. You get there by being voted to the board by shareholders. Buy some stock and vote or shut up!

    A glaring example the the "entitlement" mindset demanding what they think someone else "owes" them.
    • No kidding. Because, of, course, it totally empowers women

      to make them think the only reason they might have the job is because they have a pair of ovaries.
      • Feminism at its worst

        Don't employ based on talent or simple 'best fit' criteria... just hire a woman or two! I'm all for equal rights and equal pay, please don't misread me, but this kind of bellyaching is patronising at best and does the hard-working career-savvy woman no favours what so ever!
  • the problem

    The problem we get into whenever we have these groups "insist" a specific race.sex of a person "should" be on the board, or hired or what have you... is that it overshadows the idea of the "right person for the job". It hurts these groups, and the companies, more in the long run.

    Watch every single of group insist we have a rep from every race,gender,religious view on these boards. i'm all for equal rights and equal opportunity but the focus should always be the "right person for the job". Equal "opportunity"... Have we forgotten the "opportunity" part?

    I agree with timspublic. Get some stock, and vote as a shareholder!
  • They can always run candidates at the next shareholders' meeting

    Last I checked, there was no requirement that shareholders simply ratify management's nominees.

    While I think stockholders should be more concerned about what corporate directors and officers do than about who they are, I think real elections are always better than rubber stamps.
    John L. Ries
  • Ultraviolet preaches sexism...

    to them sexism is good if it benefits the woman...
    • This is too funny.......

      Female superior positions can be a good (I mean GREAT) thing!!
  • Sexism...

    Sorry, but isn't it also sexism to insist that a board have women members?

    IF Facebook had been turning down qualified women, because they were women and taking less qualified men on instead, I could understand it.

    I am all for equality, but that doesn't mean having a specific percent of women and racial minorities on every board, for me equality means that men, women and racial minorities and disabled people all get an equal opportunity at a job and the best person wins, REGARDLESS of sex, age, race or disability.

    Taking somebody on because they are female or coloured or disabled and not because of their ability is sexist, racist or generally predjudiced and is as abhorrent as only hiring men.
  • What I'd like to know is "Who are these people to make demands?"

    Are the stock holders? Owners of any kind? If not they have certainly a right to an opinion but no right what so ever to make demands.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • Since by this groups own data "women" do a great deal on

    Facebook does that not imply that "woman" find Facebook meats their needs/wants quite well? Isn't that the important issue here? If so why change a good thing?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • This is Discrimination as well

    Honestly, this would be discrimination against males that are equally capable. Who ever is best for the job should get it.
  • Boo Hoo! Start your own facebook type site and quityerbitching!

    buy enough stock and you can get what you want, otherwise shut up! maybe if you spent less time whining and more time working you'd get what you want! I'm so sick of EVERYONE, not just women, who think they are entitled to anything they want!
  • A question.

    What is the purpose of this request?

    Being concerned about the sex of the members of the board is in fact, sexist.
    If the companies actions were sexist, like limiting access to women to features,
    by all means act. The thing is, the fact that so much activity on FB is being done
    by women seems to indicate that most women feel that FB is serving their needs.

    The board exists to protect the rights of the share holders and to guide it
    towards the most profitable direction. It's kind of hard to argue with their
    success. Putting a woman on the board guarantees what exactly?
    If you can show how the share holders will be better served then it would
    prudent for them to act. Putting a woman like, say, Carly Fiorina would not
    necessarily be a smart thing for the share holders given her record at HP.
    All you do is guarantee a woman a paycheck. This is not to say all men
    are superior, just a reminder that a true feminist wants equal rights but does
    not expect equal results. The most competent person should get the job.
    Anything less is a waste.

    Remember, this is a private company providing a service, not a government
    entity. You can use the government to leverage opportunities, but really,
    this is still Mark's company. If you don't like it, buy him out or start your own.

    Why aren't they complaining about not having their birth control or abortions paid for? Oh i see this blog isn't about the Obama administration, sorry. LOL
  • Oh dear...

    They should just do themselves a favour and shut up.

    Don't care who you're talking to, you can't *demand* you get what you want, especially in a situation like this.
  • They're Still a Private Company

    so no one can get "voted" in.

    What I found humorous is that they rattled-off so many stats about women and FB that it looks like they're doing fine without them on the BOD.
  • It does matter

    A company as big and powerful as Facebook should have at least one board member who represents what is now over 50% of humanity. Its not only fair but smart. A diverse board can only enhance a company's future direction, not to mention its reputation. A female, a person of color or a gay can add a dimension to the board's function and focus that would otherwise be lacking with a monochrome board. It would also help the bottom line in the long run.

    And the folks who raise issues of reverse-racism or reverse-gender discrimination should keep in mind that it is impossible to be discriminated against when you are in the majority or hold most of the power. The very definition of "discrimination" slays the argument of "reverse."

    My immediate impression is that Facebook merely slipped on this one. Information Technology is, unfortunately, often a good-old boy culture. Its obvious that FB doesnt have anything against women - Sheryl Sandberg should prove that - but an all-male board really limits the advice and future success of this company and does its shareholders a disservice. If they were smart, Facebook would make half the board female.
    • It is possible

      The majority can't be discriminated against? So a business could refuse to hire men and that's not discriminatory? Further, there are more women in the US than men (according to CIA Fact Book the sex ratio is 0.97) so I guess that women can't be discriminated against here because they're in the majority?

      You argue that gender in and of itself, that is, the presence of of a different chromosomal makeup adds a dimension to the board's function and focus? So, women by having to X chromosomes automatically have different perspectives, insights and focuses? It doesn't have to do with how they're raised or the experiences they've had? Seems a little shallow to me. Is it the same thing with race? The fact that genes differ automatically makes a difference?

      Facebook is clearly catering well to men and women. Appointing a Hispanic just to have a 'minority' on the board or a woman just to have a woman on the board is as sexist and racist as it comes. I'm just curious, does Ultraviolet have any men in their guiding/governing body? All I see are some women on their 'About' page - maybe they should bring in some Easter-Eurpoean men just to get some diversity to bring new insights and focus to their organization. And they should definitely get them on their 'About' page.
      • Lol, I'm glad I'm not the only one

        who sees an all-female group screaming sex discrimination as hypocritical at best.

        The problem with 'rights' is that we dont, as a species, even have the right to our own continued survival. We have an ability to do so, and thats it.

        Nature is not fair. Life is not fair, we take our chances and providing we dont trample others in the process we all get some. Trying to take something because you see someone else taking it is just childish, and thats what this boils down to. Everyone wants a piece of Facebook because they know deep in their hearts that it owes them everything it is.
        However, rights are perceived; one individual can never deserve more than another by default in any case, anything less is not representative of the species...