Lean in: women in business, what would you do if you were not afraid?

Salesforce.com has just wrapped up its annual jamboree Dreamforce in San Francisco.

It is our planet’s biggest business event, which last week attracted 135,000 registered delegates, including 6000 non-profits and NGOs.

The standout session, from a crowded field of contenders, was the conversation between Salesforce.com’s founder Marc Benioff and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The discussion did not focus on Facebook (which Sandberg is credited with transforming into a revenue engine), but instead it pivoted around the key themes of Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.


“No matter what progress women have made we are still really far from getting our share of leadership roles, in any industry, in any country, anywhere in the world,” Sandberg said.

“It is stereotypes and cultures. What is so striking having now been all over the world talking to women is that our cultures are so different – China, Korea, France, the United States – except for one thing. Our stereotypes of men and women are actually exactly the same everywhere. We believe men should be assertive, aggressive, leaders. Everywhere in the world we believe women should speak when spoken to, raise their hand, give to others.”

It starts in the playground. Assertive girls are “bossy”, whilst boys displaying similar assertive traits are encouraged.

Imagine how much more effective marketing teams and companies in general would be if the talents of their female employees were effectively cultivated and utilized.

Sandberg recommends that we all (men and women) “lean in” and strive to work better with 50 per cent of the workforce. Do it effectively and you enable a competitive advantage.

7 years ago