Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg is not ready to throw a shoulder into the resistance movement against President Donald Trump, as it's "early" to see how his policies will take shape. Asked, or maybe better to say interrogated, by Recode editor Kara Swisher about her trip to Trump Tower with other tech leaders to begin to work with him, Sandberg stressed the importance of a "dialogue" with the political leader. "This administration is going to have broad ability to take action on things we care about,” Sandberg told Swisher during the Watermark Conference on Women in San Jose, California, as Recode summarizes.
During the talk, Sandberg, at times, "looked like a shruggie in human form," quipped BuzzFeed's Nitasha Tiku, referencing the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon, "albeit a chic and professional version, thigh-high boots crossed, lifting her shoulders and holding her palms up when Swisher pressed her on issues like why one of tech’s most famous feminists didn’t attend the Women’s March." The answer there was a "personal obligation."
“I just felt bad that I couldn’t be there,” Sandberg said, “And, once I felt bad, I felt like I couldn’t say anything.”
“This is a particularly challenging time,” Sandberg continued. “But no matter how challenging it looks, history is on our side.” Here, intersectional feminists can be heard screaming internally that history is on Sandberg's side, but not the side of all women, etc.
Asked how the dialogue with Trump is going, Sandberg said, “I think it’s early — I can’t sit on this stage and predict what will happen.”
A few days ago, on January 31, Sandberg broke her silence on one subject: Immigration. She wrote on her Facebook page to condemn Trump's executive orders, without mentioning him by name. "The Executive Orders issued over the past week defy the heart and values that define the best of our nation. Families have been separated. Frightened children have been detained in airports without their parents. People seeking refuge have been turned away and sent back to the danger they just managed to flee. This is not how it should be in America."
Sandberg also referenced her Jewish heritage, without referencing jewishness at all, writing that her great-grandmother, "Chana Bassa, left her home in Vilnius, Lithuania, to escape religious persecution."
Onstage, Sandberg told Swisher that "I have to be optimistic... Hope is the fuel for social change. When we don’t have hope, we give up on ourselves.”
Meanwhile a group of tech companies — Facebook, as well as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon, are circulating an open letter to the President regarding his immigration policies. Sources including Bloomberg and Recode, who write that Uber and Stripe are also behind the letter, obtained a draft of the document that's circulating.
"We are a nation made stronger by immigrants," it reads. "We share your goal of ensuring that our immigration system meets today’s security needs and keeps our country safe.We are concerned, however, that your recent executive order will affect many visa holders who work hard here in the United States and contribute to our country’s success. In a global economy, it is critical that we continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world. We welcome the changes your administration has made in recent days in how the Department of Homeland Security will implement the executive order, and we stand ready to help your administration identify other opportunities to ensure that our employees can travel with predictability and without undue delay."
But the letter, far from condemning in tone, strikes a conciliatory note, focusing on a shared goal for economic growth.
The business community shares your commitment to growing the American economy and expanding job creation across the country. We hire both thousands of Americans and some of the most talented people from abroad, who work together to help our companies succeed and expand our overall employment. As you contemplate changes to the nation’s complex and interconnected immigration policies, whether business and employment-based visas, refugees or DACA, we hope that you will use us as a resource to help achieve immigration policies that both support the work of American businesses and reflect American values.
Back on January 27, Facebook held a Menlo Park "Friends Day" for what CNet describes as a "small group of everyday Facebook users." There, Sandberg told a group of about 20, that, "It's obviously a challenging time for our country and our world... Things feel divisive, they feel scary. A lot of people feel like their voices aren't being heard. And they're really afraid... I think all of us feel kind of unsettled."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg echoed her vague sentiment: "This is a time in the world where there's more division than there has been in a while," he said. "That means that connecting with friends and bringing groups together is probably more important now than it ever has been, or has been in a very long time."