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Sheryl Sandberg Speaks at San Jose’s Watermark Conference for Women

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks during the Watermark Conference for Women at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org, declined to attend or post about the Women’s March. The women’s rights activist received criticism for her lack of participation and support. When questioned about the march at the Watermark Conference for Women, Sandberg explained that she had a personal commitment that kept her from attending the demonstration. She seemed regretful and elaborated, “I just didn’t feel comfortable posting, and that was a mistake” but was very positive on the movement saying the march was “an incredible showing of support for women, all around the world.”

The “Lean In” author continues to champion women’s rights and recently pledged an additional $1 million to Planned Parenthood. Despite her opposing views, Sandberg has refused to criticize the president directly opting instead for an optimistic view of the coming months. Part of this may be that as a major business executive with a duty to shareholders, her hands are tied. She was the Facebook representative, not CEO Mark Zuckerberg, that attended Trump’s gathering of top technology firms in December.  Though she recognizes that times are challenging, she claims,

“I have to be optimistic. Hope is the fuel for social change. When we don’t have hope, we give up on ourselves.”

There is speculation that Sandberg will run for public office one day. The prominent businesswoman had her start in the U.S. Treasury Department before her time and Google and Facebook. As a well-respected female and one of the world’s most influential business leaders, Sandberg has the potential to be a strong candidate.

Sandberg spoke at the Watermark Conference for Women alongside former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeline Albright to further the potentiality. A long time major Democratic donor, Sandberg was a leading contender in a Hillary Clinton administration to serve as Treasury secretary. When Recode executive editor Kara Swisher questioned her about it directly, Sandberg refused to give anything away saying, “I have said no, and I’m going to continue to say no.” Her book tour in the coming months for her upcoming book, “Option B,” may give a clearer indication as to her plans for the future.

The Watermark hopes to ensure women are able to be successful in and for their companies, by providing programs focused on connection, development and advocacy. The group is made up of a community of executive women in the Bay Area, with a mission to increase the representation of women at executive levels. 2015 was host to the first Lead On Conference for Women. The name of the Conference officially changed to the Watermark Conference for Women after Watermark brought a wildly successful plan of women’s professional development and networking opportunity to Silicon Valley.  Founded in 1993 as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), Watermark has since expanded to include women in all industries. Members of Watermark have created and led the most innovative and successful companies, contributing to all aspects of business, non-profits, technology, media, education, healthcare, law, government, and society.

If you are interested in attending the Watermark Conference in 2018, visit their website watermarkconferenceforwomen.org

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Claire Carter
Claire Marie Carter is passionate about self-improvement as a catalyst for change in the world. A yoga class in middle school sparked her interest in all things wellness and she's practiced ever since. She writes about motivation and life lessons at clairemariecarter.com.
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