Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social network, should diversify its all-white male board to include women and minorities, according to advocacy group Face It, which is urging the change with a petition that gathered more than 52,000 signatures.
“We have no doubt that you are well aware that women make up the majority of your users, produce the majority of your content and drive your profits,” Face It Campaign founders Alice Baumgartner and Alice Buttrick wrote in a letter to Facebook’s board, posted online yesterday. “In the spirit of your own company, we are asking you to add women of all colors to your board before you go public.”
Facebook has drawn scrutiny for appointing a board of seven white males, even while most of its 800 million users are women and the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is an advocate for gender equality. Just 11.3 percent of the Fortune 500 had male-only boards last year, according to Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit that researches women and business issues.
Jonathan Thaw, a spokesman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, declined to comment on the group’s letter.
The social-media company should take steps to diversify before proceeding with a planned initial public offering, the advocacy group said. Fifty-eight percent of Facebook users are women, according to a 2010 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that found women spend more time than men making status and profile updates and commenting on posts.
Facebook, which intends to raise $5 billion in the biggest IPO of an Internet company, valued its shares at $30.89 apiece as of Jan. 31, according to a regulatory filing today. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg founded the company in his Harvard University dorm and has 56.5 percent voting control of the stock.
Face It will gather at Facebook’s New York office at noon on April 25 to present the petition, the group said.