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Sheryl Sandberg Launches Her ‘Lean In’ Campus Initiative

It was no coincidence that Sandberg chose Howard University  in Washington, D.C. to announce details of her new initiative in a campus known to be favored by female students of African American origin.

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Sheryl Sandberg / Getty

Sheryl Sandberg took to the podium last week  in  Washington, D.C.’s Howard University to discuss  the launch of her LeanIn.org  web site’s campus initiative at a  lecture held at the University’s School of Business.  The decision by Ms. Sandberg to address the issue of women in the workplace, subject of her best selling publication “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, ” has to be regarded as a brave one, particularly as Ms. Sandberg has tended to shy clear of discussing  the particular challenges facing “ women of color” in the world of business.

Sheryl Sandberg is known as being one of the most important women in the business world,  recently appointed to the role of chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook. In 2012, Ms. Sandberg was  elected to the board of directors social media giant, the first woman to serve on the board of Facebook, one of the world’s fastest developing companies.

Ms. Sandberg found the time in the midst of her highly challenging position at Facebook to author Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has since spawned the website initiative, LeanIn.org.

On Monday 14th October Ms. Sandberg stood in front of her audience at Howard University to give a lecture on the place of women in business, during which she  announced the  launching of a special program aimed at the University campuses of America.

LeanIn.org, has been labeled by Ms. Sandberg d as “the next chapter” of Lean In.  The initial purpose of Lean In was to facilitate the formation groups of professional women, with each group numbering no more than ten members,  who will provide mutual  support in decision making processes. Processed  that are outlined  in Ms. Sandberg’s publication.

With the new campus program, designed to be an offshoot of the Lean In initiative, to pass the message on through university campuses, will receive a virtual backup from  Ms. Sandberg who will be making streamed  appearances at lectures to be held  across the United States.

Sheryl Sandberg explained to her audience  that, due to her busy schedule, she would be regretfully unable to  physically attend of these lectures, but hastened to point out that she had kept a special place clear in her schedule to personally  announce the launch of the campus initiative at Howard.

This may be a reaction to book critics that complained that Lean In may not have adequately addressed the delicate issue of whether women of African American origin , whose opportunities in the work place have been limited in the past, would be equally likely to benefit from the advice contained in the publication.

While most of Ms. Sandberg’s lecture speech covered the basics of her women-in-the-workplace manifesto, it was inevitable that  the subject of possible  racial bias in the workplace would be raised in the question and answer session at the end of the lecture. When broached on the subject, Ms. Sandberg replied  in  her typical direct manner that one of the reasons why she  wrote Lean In is  because men still run the world, because historically white men run the world, and nobody is sure that they are doing a good job of it. “. While women are under-represented, both men and women of color are “sorely under-represented” in leadership decisions, ” She added.

In response, Okianer Christian Dark, dean of the University’s  School of Law, praised Ms. Sandberg’s  choice of  Howard’s campus  to launch her campus initiative, stating that  Howard University is the quintessential place to communicate to the world the importance of having a diverse leadership group in the various workplaces.

In 2012 Sheryl Sandberg  was named in the Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine. Ms. Sandberg’s personal wealth  is reported to be in the region of $400 million, thanks  to her stock holdings in Facebook as well as other  companies.

 

Sheryl Sandberg was born in Washington, D.C, but brought up in  North Miami Beach, Florida. Ms. Sandberg graduated Harvard College graduating with a bachelor of arts, summa cum laude in economics, with the added distinction of being awarded the highly prestigious John H. Williams Prize for the top graduating student in her subject.

While studying at Harvard, Ms. Sandberg first got to know  Larry Summers who was  teaching at the college. After graduation Summers asked Sheryl to join him as his research assistant at the World Bank reporting on important health projects funded by the bank in India.

Sheryl  was to remain at the World Bank  for around twelve months during 1993, before  enrolling at the  Harvard Business School, graduating two years later with a Masters degree in economics, with highest distinction.

Sheryl Sandberg began her professional career as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, before the meeting her professional association with Larry Summers, by then United States Secretary of the Treasury in the administration of President Bill Clinton.  From 1996 to 2001, Sandberg held the role of Summer’s Chief of Staff, playing a major part in the Treasury’s mission of forgiving debt in the developing world.

Ms. Sandberg left the Treasury to join  Google Inc. in 2001, remaining there until early 2008, when she was appointed by Facebook to become their COO.

Sheryl Sandberg is a key figure in the Facebook management team,  responsible for overseeing the firm’s business operations, taking in business development, communications, human resources, marketing, public policy as well as  sales.

As well as her activities with the Lean In initiative, Ms. Sandberg also serves on the boards of Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development and V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women.

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