Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, officially became a billionaire last week. But she should be recognized more for the steps she’s taken to change corporate culture. Earlier this spring, Sandberg appeared in a video saying that, since she had children, she has left work at 5:30 p.m. for dinner with her family.
This declaration sent ripples through the human-resources world, in part because Sandberg was honest about having to hide her departures. For years, even as she worked at the upper echelons of Google and Facebook, she sent e-mails to colleagues early in the morning and late at night to prove that she was still working hard. Now, Sandberg no longer wants to apologize. She wants other women — and men — to feel equally free to balance their work and family lives. Surveys have shown that, while flexible scheduling is increasingly available, most employees don’t take advantage because they fear career repercussions. Sandberg’s phenomenal success suggests the opposite, which makes her the perfect symbol of change.
Granted, it’s easier to set your own hours when you’re the boss, and certain jobs don’t allow for flexibility. Still, Sandberg’s message should resonate with women, men, and the companies that employ them: It’s the quality of your work that should define your success, not the precise amount of time you spend in the office.