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Here's a startling statistic: women currently hold a mere 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and only 4.5 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions, according to research from Catalyst.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is on a mission to change that, with her bestselling book "Lean In."
There are lots of things that have kept women out of the executive ranks but none of them is bigger than pregnancy. So she said on stage Wednesday night during an interview with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff at his company's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
That needs to change, starting with how bosses and employees talk about pregnancy. This is what Sandberg said:
We know that we lose a lot of our high-performing women ... during the child bearing years.
What do we do about that? Nothing. When do we mention it? Never ever.
Raise your hand if you've called someone in your office and said, "You may want to have kids one day. I'd love to talk to you about it."
... Yeah, I've never gotten a hand.
We've convinced ourselves that it's illegal to talk about it. ...
Let's be clear, it's not illegal to talk about pregnancy. It's illegal to discriminate against pregnancy and by not talking about it we get nowhere.
She wants bosses to have conversations about pregnancy like this:
You may want to have kids one day. My door is open. Come talk to me anytime.
If you want to have children I'm not going to give the good [opportunities] to someone else because you're pregnant. And I'm going to help you take a leave and come back if that's what you want to do.
It's not just legal [to have this discussion] but it's best practices. Any manager that has that conversation, you just got a loyal employee for life.
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