LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called on governments and companies to do more to close the gender pay gap on Sunday and said both girls and boys should be encouraged to become leaders from an early age.
“We need to start paying women well and we need the public policy and the corporate policy to get there,” she told the BBC.
“But certainly women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that’s got to be part of the answer.”
The issue of women earning less than men arose again earlier this month, when the BBC was forced to reveal the pay of its journalists and presenters.
Men earning more than 150,000 pounds ($197,000) a year outnumbered women by two to one, and the broadcaster’s top-ranking man received more than four times the amount of its highest-paid woman.
Sandberg, one of the most influential Silicon Valley executives and the author of the 2013 book “Lean In”, said women undervalued the contribution they could make in business.
“We start telling little girls not to lead at very young ages and we start telling little boys to lead at a very young ages, and that’s a mistake” she told interviewer Kirsty Young on the long-running radio show Desert Island Discs.
“I believe everyone has inside them the ability to lead and we should let people choose that, not based on gender but on who they are and who they want to be.”
Sandberg also discussed the efforts that Facebook was taking to keep the platform and its messaging service WhatsApp from being used to promote and discuss militant attacks.
Speaking about a meeting with British interior minister Amber Rudd, she said the company and the British government were “very aligned in our goals”.
“We want to make sure all of us do our part to stop terrorism, and so our Facebook policies are very clear: there’s absolutely no place for terrorism, hate, calls for violence of any kind,” she said.
Rudd has called on tech companies to do more stop extremists posting content on their platforms and using encrypted messaging services to plan attacks.
“As technology evolves these are complicated conversations, we’re in close communication working through the issues all around the world,” Sandberg said on Sunday.
($1 = 0.7614 pounds)
Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Larry King