By DoD News Staff
During Secretary Ash Carter’s first few months in office, he has made clear that people are the key to innovation and prosperity at the Department of Defense. According to him, we must continue to attract and inspire the best talent and expertise to contribute to the Force of the Future.
So it was fitting that Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and author of Lean In, visited the Pentagon recently to highlight how empowering people – specifically women and minorities – will strengthen DoD.
During her standing-room only speech, Sandberg talked about why women and other minorities are greatly underrepresented at leadership levels, and why both genders “let it” happen.
Sandberg said a lack of progress has endured for years, and one reason is that women commonly suffer from low expectations in their careers.
But, as Sandberg pointed out, “If any entity can effect societal change, and has proven it can do so in both the military and civilian sectors, it’s DoD.”
Sandberg clicked off numerous examples of how the military handled, coped with and even solved certain social issues. And now it is time, she said, for the military to develop mission-critical, diverse leadership. It will create a stronger military with stronger results, she said.
Sandberg made her pivotal point when she said “Just recognizing bias is not enough. It’s time to acknowledge issues and biases and counteract them.” She outlined three simple yet pervasive biases at work in the workplace:
— Performance bias, where everyone –- men and women — overestimate male performance and underestimate female performance;
— Likeability bias, in which powerful and successful men are likeable, but powerful and successful women are not. Rather, such women are chalked up as “bossy.”
— Responsibility bias, which is easily demonstrated by a household in which both parents work; yet, it’s often the woman who bears most of the responsibility for children. Studies show, Sandberg added, that equal chore division produces happier couples.
Leaving the auditorium, Sandberg’s closing words danced in my head: “I believe the military has an incredibly important role to play in leadership, and it’s the military that can lead the way” to break gender and racial boundaries across all of society.
Endless possibilities are just waiting for us to act on them.