ABC News(NEW YORK) — Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg day launched “Together Women Can,” a new public awareness campaign to encourage women to be mentors and powerful allies for other women at work.
Sandberg announced the initiative in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Amy Robach that aired Thursday on Good Morning America. During the interview the Facebook COO also talked about how she’s coping following the unexpected death last year of her husband, Dave Goldberg, telling Robach that Goldberg’s death was “still a struggle.”
‘Together Women Can’
“Together Women Can” is the latest initiative from Sandberg’s organization LeanIn.Org. The organization developed from Sandberg’s 2013 book “Lean In,” whose goal is to “empower all women to achieve their ambitions.”
Asked about how she came up with the idea for “Together Women Can,” Sandberg replied: “We see all the time women supporting other women. And I think there’s a myth out there that women don’t, and it’s not true.”
She added that there were “small, everyday things” that women could do to help other women in the workplace to make a big difference.
“We know that women get interrupted more than men. And if you’re getting interrupted, of course you should be able to say, ‘Hey, I haven’t finished,’ but that can be hard. Another woman sitting next to you can say, ‘Hey, I’d really like to hear what Amy was about to say,’” she said.
Another way is to acknowledge the work of female colleagues.
“We know men get credit more easily for their ideas than women. So coming to the table and saying, ‘This was a great project and this was based on Amy’s idea,’ is another way we can celebrate each other,” Sandberg said, adding that such “strong moves” in the workplace benefit all women.
She also encouraged parents to teach their daughters to have strong voices.
“We call our little girls ‘bossy.’ We don’t call little boys ‘bossy,’ because we expect them to lead. We should look at our daughters and say, ‘You’re not bossy, you have executive leadership skills and I’m going to support and encourage that,'” she said.
A PSA for the campaign features Kerry Washington, Serena Williams, Lena Dunham, Megyn Kelly and other women at the top of their respective fields describing how other women have helped their careers.
“We’re hoping everyone will join us. Post a picture or a story of a woman who helped them with [the hashtag] #LeanInTogether, and we want people to really see what’s happening there, which is that we are moving to equality,” she said. “Women are going to have half of the top jobs. Women are going to reach for any dream. We’re not going to be told we can’t. And we’re going to tell each other we can.”
Sandberg credits Facebook’s Lori Goler and The Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington, as being strong influences in her life.
Huffington “has been for a very long time a source of great career advice for me, but also a personal shoulder to cry on, which I needed,” she said.
Sandberg wrote the 2013 bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead in 2013 and founded the related nonprofit foundation, LeanIn.org, to help women achieve their goals through education, community and “Lean In” circles, a network of small groups where women meet to practice new skills and support each other.
‘I Miss Dave Still’
Sandberg told Robach that is was the “Lean In” community which helped her cope after her husband died.
The 46-year-old mother of two said she was doing better but added: “It’s still a struggle. You know, I miss Dave still. But I know I don’t have any choice other than to keep going. And I keep going because I look deep and find a resilience inside myself … But also because I’m surrounded by the support of a lot of people, a lot of women who have really supported me.”
Sandberg said she had to “dig deep” and “and find the belief in myself that I could keep going, that I could — you know, do function as a single mother, that I would be able to do my job and take care of my children.
“You know, I have resources others don’t have, and I’m aware of that. And I’m grateful for that,” she added. “And I think we need to do a much better job supporting single mothers. Because there are so many out there who need our help and often the people who need us the most as a society, we abandon. And we need to change that.”
Sandberg said her greatest hope for the new campaign was that people recognize that women are already supporting each other.
“We will celebrate the women who are helping us. We will get rid of the myth that women are other women’s worst enemies, because they’re not. And we will start celebrating leadership in women and little girls everywhere,” she said
More information about the “Together Women Can” campaign can be found on LeanIn.org/together.
Sheryl Sandberg is a member of the board of The Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC News.
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