She was speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity here on Wednesday.
In a main stage presentation, as well as a more intimate panel discussion afterward and a separate conversation with USA TODAY, she advocated for both men and women to help support women in the workplace.
She also called for advertising that more accurately reflects the diversity of how women look.
She channeled the title of her book about inclusion — Lean In — during those conversations.
“Lean in means we should all lean in for equality,” she said.
The topic of diversity is swirling around Silicon Valley after Yahoo on Tuesday released its staffing diversity data, saying in a blog post that 50% of its workforce is white, 39% Asian, 4% Hispanic, 2% black and 4% undisclosed or more than one race.Women make up 37% of Yahoo workers, while 23% of senior managers are women.
Google also recently released results that showed a need for more diversity. It reported a lower number of women than men in tech and leadership positions, as well as an underrepresentation of non-Asian minorities in the company overall.
In Cannes, Sandberg, and more than 12,000 other professionals, were in town for the marketing industry’s biggest awards competition and trade show.
Sandberg pointed out that “we live in a world that is still overwhelmingly run by men,” and said that less than 6% of CEO positions of top companies worldwide are held by women.
“We have a leadership problem,” she says.
As for Facebook’s diversity, she said a report would come out soon, but didn’t disclose what day it would be announced.
She also said company management listens to the points made by smaller groups of employees who gather to talk about issues in a what is deemed a “Lean In Circle.”
The lack of diversity in top positions at companies remains a major issue, says Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, which supports more diversity in the top levels of marketing and advertising firms. But she applauded firms for sharing its company information in that area.
“If you don’t measure or don’t share,” there’s no way to truly know the extent of the issues and begin to fix them, she says.
Gordon says that companies, and employees, can take small proactive steps, which she terms “micro actions” to help close the gender gap.
The gap is very wide.
There are just 25 female CEOs in the Fortune 500, according to women’s advocacy group Catalyst.
In the tech world, Google launched the move toward transparency last month when it released its staffing data.
At the tech giant, 61% of staff are white, 30% Asian, 3% Hispanic and 2% black. Women make up 30% of its workforce.
LinkedIn released its staffing data last week. Its workforce is 53% white, 38% Asian, 4% Hispanic and 2% black. Women make up 39% of employees. Nationally, women make up 47% of the workforce.
In France, 3% Conference founder Gordon said women in top positions should take on public roles such as speaking engagements and judging for industry awards. When women in leadership roles step into the spotlight, younger women have examples to emulate, she said.
Sandberg did that at the Cannes festival.
In addition to talking publicly about the lack of female leadership in companies, she also encouraged festival attendees to embrace diversity in their advertising and marketing campaigns.
She advocated for them to use images that show women as powerful and in control.
She highlighted an ad from Pantene that showed men and women in similar powerful positions, but being labeled differently. Professional men were deemed “persuasive,” and the “boss” in the ad, while professional women were deemed “pushy” and “bossy.”
She said ads such as that one shine a light on stereotypes.
Sandberg urged advertising executives who want to show a woman in weak position — such as hiding under her desk — to consider other potential images to use. She also put forth a call for the use of more diverse-looking women in marketing campaigns.
“We have a choice,” she says.