Business

No women on Facebook board

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, is an outspoken advocate for gender equality in the workplace. But all seven of Facebook’s directors are men.

NEW YORK - Most of Facebook Inc.’s more than 800 million users are women. You wouldn’t know it from looking at the company’s board, whose seven directors are all men.

The disconnect puts the company at odds with others in the industry that have at least one female director - including LinkedIn Corp. and Google Inc. - and from most big public companies in the United States. Just 11.3 percent of the Fortune 500 had male-only boards last year, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that researches women and business issues.

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“We’re long past having to defend or explain why women should be on boards, given all the data that shows how companies with female as well as male directors perform better,’’ said Anne Mulcahy, former chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corp. and a director at Johnson & Johnson Co., Target Corp., and Washington Post Co. “It’s unfortunate when companies with a large percentage of women constituents don’t reflect that in their boardrooms.’’

A Catalyst survey of Fortune 500 companies found that those with three or more female directors outperformed those with fewer between 2005 and 2009, achieving on average 43 percent better return on equity. As Facebook prepares to raise $5 billion in an initial public offering, the composition of its board shows its business strategy is faulty, said Susan Stautberg, cofounder of New York-based Women Corporate Directors, which promotes female board membership.

“It doesn’t make sense for a company that claims to be so forward looking to not have any women directors,’’ Stautberg said. “If they just have an old boy’s network in the boardroom, they won’t have access to diverse ideas and strategies.’’

Facebook’s board makeup is surprising considering its chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is an outspoken advocate for gender equality, said Malli Gero, executive director of 2020 Women on Boards.

“It’s surprising and disappointing that Facebook has zero female directors because Sandberg is so powerful at the company and so outspoken in favor of women advancing,’’ said Gero, whose Boston-based nonprofit is campaigning for 20 percent female representation on US boards by 2020.

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