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Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg on Sexual Harassment: ‘It’s the Power, Stupid’

Social network exec says she had to call security on a man who followed her to her room at a conference

The most powerful woman in Silicon Valley has opened up about sexual harassment.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg took to her personal page on Sunday morning and talked about her personal experience with sexual harassment, how to curb it in the workplace, and the need to hire more women in prominent tech positions.

The 48-year-old “Lean In” author started off saying she’d never been harassed by anyone she’s worked for — something that made her “lucky.” But she had nevertheless run into issues while attending conferences, including one guy stalking her up to her room.

“Still, like almost every woman – and some men – I know, I have experienced sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexual advances in the course of doing my job,” wrote Sandberg.  “A hand on my leg under the table at a meeting. Married men – all decades older than I – offering “career advice” and then suggesting that they could share it with me alone late at night. The conference where a man I declined leaving a dinner with came to my hotel room late at night and banged on my door until I called security.”

Sandberg tweaked a vintage Bill Clinton line when touching on what leads to misconduct: “It’s the power, stupid.”

She lauded the current movement to out predators in a post-Harvey Weinstein world, saying this was a “watershed” moment.  “For the first time in my professional life, it feels like people are finally prepared to hold perpetrators responsible,” wrote Sandberg.

To make this happen, Sandberg made a few recommendations: Silicon Valley needs to have “clear principles” in the workplace that deal with harassment claims, thorough investigations, and take “swift and decisive” action when something sordid has occurred.

“We need systemic, lasting changes that deter bad behavior and protect everyone, from professionals climbing the corporate ladder to workers in low-paid positions who often have little power,” added Sandberg. “We need to end the abuse of power imbalances due to gender – and race and ethnicity, too. We must not lose this opportunity.”

And one easy way to curtail sexual harassment in the workplace? Sandberg ended her post recommending companies hire, mentor and promote more women.

“It wouldn’t solve all the problems we face if more women were in power – although I believe we could get quite a lot of good done. But one thing’s for certain: many fewer people would be groped and worse while trying to do their jobs. And that would be a major step in the right direction.”