Facebook COO Sandberg's personal loss led to extended bereavement policy

Dive Brief:

  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s personal loss led her to extend the company’s bereavement leave policy from 10 to 20 days for an immediate family member’s death, GeekWire reports. Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg, died unexpectedly two years ago while the two were vacationing.
  • Sandberg’s grief prompted her to adopt a generous bereavement policy for Facebook, she explained at a Seattle event while promoting her latest book. Other tech companies are hailing her for her policy decision, says GeekWire.
  • Sandberg’s best-selling first book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," is centered around the subject of women supporting and empowering other women.

Dive Insight:

Sandberg showed strong leadership by offering a benefit many businesses would have found too generous and costly. Instead of adopting the policy to attract and retain talent, Sandberg recognized employees’ need for support and sufficient time to grieve after losing a loved one.

Incidentally, bereavement leave is not without its benefits to employers. Experts say the potential lapses in concentration caused by the death of a loved one (including pets) understandably lead to lost productivity and poor judgment at work. Grief may also create a toxic situation in the workplace.

The amount of kudos to Sandberg from other tech companies demonstrates the respect her leadership has gained in the industry. Her sensitivity to the issue demonstrates the value of empathy in improving workplace engagement.

​Facebook isn't without gender-based controversies. The social media giant was accused of rejecting code written by women employees more often than that of their male co-workers. However, this isn't wholly distinctive; the rest of the tech industry still struggles with hiring women, especially for leadership roles.

In Congress, bills circulating in both houses would update the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in order to mandate bereavement leave for U.S. employees on a level similar to that of Facebook's policy. The issue has gained bipartisan support.

Filed Under: HR Management Comp & Benefits Corporate News