Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s two lieutenants got a big pay day for their work around last year’s election: COO Sheryl Sandberg and CFO David Wehner got just shy of $1 million in bonus compensation for the second half of 2020.
Those bonuses, awarded at 110%, were at least partially tied to “election integrity efforts in connection with the U.S. 2020 elections,” according to an SEC filing from the company first spotted by The Information.
Ahead of the November 2020 elections, Facebook rolled out a number of measures intended to curb misinformation and promote voting.
The company added labels to all posts about voting that came from federal elected officials and candidates, it paused political ad buying for months, and opened an information center intended to inform users about voting laws. Those efforts were apparently considered a success if the bonus payouts are any indication.
In the years following the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook struggled with how to moderate speech and advertising from politicians and political campaigns.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has remained steadfast in his argument that political advertising is equivalent to political speech, and that political speech shouldn’t be moderated by the social media giant.
“In a democracy it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying so they can make their own judgments,” Zuckerberg said in a late 2019 interview with CBS This Morning cohost Gayle King. “I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news.”
Following the 2020 US election, as former President Donald Trump repeatedly insisted that the election had been “stolen” and Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, Facebook took the unprecedented step of outright banning Trump from its platforms.
“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg said in January. “The risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
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Way back in 2011, Misha Nonoo was having brunch with some friends in Manhattan. She was around 25 at the time, sporting a jacket that she herself had designed.
By chance, a buyer for the brand Intermix was sitting one table over. “She said, ‘I love the jacket you’re wearing, where is it from?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I made it,” Nonoo recalled to Insider.
Next thing she knew, Nonoo found herself in the buyer’s office, showing off eight original designs. “I walked out with a purchase order for six of the eight pieces,” Nonoo said. It was worth $150,000.
A few months later, Nonoo officially launched her eponymous clothing line, and within two years, she became a finalist for the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. In 2015, she was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30. That same year, she became the first designer to host a fashion show on Instagram. The next year, Snapchat.
Nonoo, now 35, told Insider she can’t exactly remember her first celebrity client but said her first clients were her friends and family whose support helped build the business – it’s just that Markle and Princess Beatrice happen to be in her friendship circle. Another friend, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, was a key player in her groundbreaking Instagram fashion show. (Nonoo is married to Michael Hess, heir to the Hess oil fortune and an energy entrepreneur.)
Today, the brand counts celebrities such as Bella Hadid, Cate Blanchett, Meghan Markle, and Amal Clooney as fans. In 2019, she teamed up with Markle, then a working royal, on a clothing line for the women’s charity Smart Works. The sleek designs and sustainable ethos of Nonoo’s brands are some of the reasons it’s won such highly placed fans.
“I have always been a huge fan of Misha – personally and professionally,” stylist Sarah Slutsky told Insider. “I love the way she prioritizes uniform dressing. I think a formula for what to add to your closet is empowering and helpful for many women. I believe when you can build a wardrobe with pieces that are interchangeable, the options for feeling put together are endless and the result is confidence.”
Nonoo’s latest collection, entitled “The Perfect 10,” includes white collared shirts, cozy turtlenecks, and sweatpants, intended for the new on-the-go – just from the bedroom to the kitchen table for yet another Zoom meeting.
In an interview with Insider, Nonoo talks about her latest fashion collection, getting her start in fashion, and the future of sustainability in the industry.
Her brand doesn’t keep inventory and doesn’t have seasonal collections
Growing up, Nonoo always knew she wanted to start her own thing. Born in Bahrain, Nonoo relocated with her family to London at the age of 11.
She attended college between London and Paris, going to both the European Business School and the École Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur, studying international business and French.
At 23, she came to New York to work at a menswear tailoring company, which agreed to sponsor her visa. “I wanted to live in New York,” she said. “This was my way in.”
She has come a long way since that chance encounter in Manhattan. Today, A hallmark of her business model is that she produces everything on-demand, and does not create seasonal collections. The former was inspired by a situation that arose early on in her fashion career.
In the very beginning, she had worked with one retailer that placed an enormous purchase order. She was excited, she recalled.
“Then I quickly realized you only have a 10-week full-price selling period and your gross margin agreement means that every week you’re on sale, [wholesalers are] chipping away at that gross margin,” she said.
“The agreement is designed so that you’ll never win as a designer,” she continued. “It was always designed in the favor of the major department store.”
The store also decided to return any inventory that was not sold, leaving Nonoo with excess product. “That was a huge learning curve,” she said, adding that all the money that was being wasted could have easily put her out of business.
“Now I look back on that,” she continued. “That was the beginning of me starting to manufacture on-demand and to understand that I wanted to own my relationship with my customer and that I never wanted to be beholden to a major department store.”
That worked out well, as wholesalers were hit hard during the pandemic. Some filed for bankruptcy, while all were severely impacted by the loss in foot traffic as shopping pivoted online.
Meanwhile, because Nonoo now produces everything on demand, as manufacturing in China shut down, she could turn to Peru and Los Angeles for production without losing much money from wasted inventory.
The brand also began honing in on its social media strategy and was able to launch a loyalty program for customers, with the highest tier including a tailoring allowance and a personal stylist. For that, customers have to spend at least $2,800.
Consumers are educating themselves more on sustainability, Nonoo says
For those with the means, it’s about forging fast-fashion and buying pieces of clothes one knows they will reuse over and over again. That’s who Nonoo’s line seeks to service, the customers that want quality staple items that will be reused over and over again.
Even young people – many of whom still buy cheap fast fashion – have become conscious about how the industry is polluting and damaging the environment, Nonoo said.
“A lot of them use platforms like Threat Up and the Real Real, Poshmark to buy things secondhand,” she continued. “As opposed to buying virgin fashion that comes from a source like one of the major fashion brands.”
Aside from making seasonless products and not keeping an inventory, Nonoo’s brand has also eliminated single-use plastic from its supply chain and has plans to forgo using single-use polyesters.
Another trend that will follow long after the pandemic is seasonless fashion shows, Nonoo said. That’s ironic for Nonoo, as she made headlines years ago for being the first designer to host an Instagram runway show.
That opportunity came about one night while Nonoo was having dinner at the home of a friend of hers, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
Nonoo told Sandberg that earlier that day, she had toured Instagram’s headquarters and spoke to someone who works in the marketing and events department about how the fashion industry was quickly changing.
She relayed the conversation to Sandberg, who agreed that the industry was undergoing a shakeup. The idea of a virtual fashion show emerged.
“She said, ‘Well, Instagram can’t officially partner with anyone,'” Nonoo said. “But she was really incredibly helpful and walked me through what the parameters were and the lines we could cross.”
There were strict guidelines for the show, which, Nonoo said, helped her and her team be even more creative. But that didn’t make the task any easier. It was hard because an Instagram fashion show “hadn’t been done before.”
But now, Nonoo is leading the way to another runway disruption – hardly doing them at all.
“It’s about consuming things when you need them, that fit into your life, and that are going to work for you for a long time,” she said.
Nonoo said she thinks the pandemic has disrupted the industry so much, that even when shows fully come back, “I don’t think fashion weeks are going to be the same.”
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Wednesday the company would now offer paid leave to employees who suffer domestic violence or sexual assault.
Facebook staff will be able to take up to 20 days of paid time off if they, a family member, or a household member are experiencing violence and sexual assault at home, Sandberg said at the Bloomberg Equality Summit.
Sandberg said this was prompted by rising reports of domestic violence amid the global lockdowns of COVID-19, saying, “We all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent it and help those who go through these awful experiences.”
“It’s a situation where you need paid time off, and not just for yourself but for a loved one,” she said. “This is us really recognizing that this is something that affects everyone, including our employees.”
After the summit, Sandberg wrote on Facebook that the 20 days policy could be for “seeking medical attention, or support from a domestic abuse shelter, victims’ services organization or rape crisis center, or to relocate temporarily or permanently if they need to.”
Facebook previously allowed US employees who were themselves victims of domestic violence to take unpaid leave, Bloomberg reported.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request to comment.
A company spokesperson told Bloomberg that employees who have told their managers they have to take emergency leave will later be identified as a domestic abuse victims in Facebook’s internal systems.
Only human resources managers have access to these systems, they said.
Facebook also provides an additional 10 weeks of COVID-19 leave for employees to recover from the virus or to care for their children or elderly relatives, Sandberg said in an interview with Axios on March 8.
It’s one thing to hear your CEO mention the topic of unconscious bias in a town hall. It’s another thing to see your direct manager call out your colleague’s microaggression in a meeting.
Real change takes brave leaders engaging in tough conversations. And Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of the gender equity nonprofit LeanIn, wants to make those uncomfortable conversations more common.
“People want to talk about bias, but they’re afraid to talk about what the actual biases are. They’re afraid to say things out loud,” she told Insider.
To help managers work through (not dance around) tough diversity and inclusion topics, Sandberg’s nonprofit created an interactive program called “50 Ways to Fight Bias.” Prompts from the interactive highlight the biases women, especially women of color, experience in the workplace.
Leaders from Amazon, Airbnb, PayPal, and Walmart have already participated in the program. Over 1,000 other companies are signed up.
Not talking about bias has damaging consequences. Among several other factors, like a lack of sponsorship or a culture of discrimination, bias particularly keeps women of color from reaching the highest rungs of the corporate ladder.
For every 100 men promoted into a managerial role between 2019 and 2020, only 85 women were promoted, according to research McKinsey and LeanIn released last year. That gap was even larger for women of color. Only 58 Black women and 71 Latinas were promoted.
For International Women’s Day, Insider spoke with Sandberg about unconscious bias, the mounting number of women exiting the workforce to care for their kids, and her thoughts on how America’s racial reckoning could lead to change.
The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
You’ve been thinking a lot about unconscious bias. You recently released an interactive program that managers at Walmart, Amazon, PayPal, and other companies have used on the topic. How are leaders doing right now when it comes to tackling unconscious bias?
It’s really about recognizing that we all need to do better.
We need to have conversations about women being interrupted, about Black women being called ‘bossy,’ about Latina women being called ’emotional,’ these are things that people need to understand are still happening, and we need this to change. And the only way to have these things change is to have these conversations.
It’s about leaders and employees getting uncomfortable.
Yes. We need to talk about it in the specific. Saying “There’s bias,” doesn’t do it. That’s not enough. We have to be specific, even though that’s where the hard conversations come up.
It can be hard to admit that these are the biases because we don’t want to say that, but pretending they don’t exist unfortunately does not make it go away. And I think that’s the point of the “50 Ways to Fight Bias” program.
We’re trying to bring unconscious bias to life.
Another topic I wanted to talk with you about is the staggering number of women leaving the workforce right now, the “she-session.” Are enough CEOs talking about it? Taking action?
I don’t think enough leaders are talking about it. I really don’t. My foundation did a survey in October that showed that 25% of women in the workforce were thinking about leaving.
You saw it coming.
I don’t think it’s that we saw it coming, it’s more that we asked women what they were thinking, and we listened.
Women were working a double shift before the coronavirus, but once the pandemic hit, there was a double-double shift. It’s completely unsustainable for women.
Crises are moments of reconciliation for us, right? We either have to make things better or we have to acknowledge and accept that they’re going to be worse. Women have done the majority of household work and childcare forever, that’s not new, right? The question now is, are we going to accept that? And leave it like that? Or are we going to fight and change it?
What can business leaders do to address the “she-session”?
There’s so much CEOs have to do to address this. This isn’t a problem women can solve on their own. This is a problem we have to work together to solve.
For one, make sure your corporate policies are right. For example, at Facebook, we canceled performance reviews. Because you can’t tell people, ‘Hey I know you’ve got a lot to do amid this pandemic’ and hold them to the same standards. We gave everyone an additional 10 weeks of COVID leave, additional time off for anything related to the coronavirus: taking care of yourself, taking care of your child, taking care of your child doing long-distance work, we are giving you that option. And I think more companies need to change those types of things.
Then there’s bias, you have to have a program that talks about and recognizes bias. You have to be very thoughtful about recruiting and retaining diversity.
There are so many things leaders need to do.
You talked about not wasting a crisis. The pandemic and the racial reckoning underscored the need for corporate America to take diversity and inclusion seriously. Do you think the efforts companies are taking now will continue? Will there be lasting change?
I want to believe that it’s going to be different this time. I think there are some real signs of hope that people are taking this much more seriously. But can I tell you I know for sure? Of course not, but I’m really hopeful.
Let me ask you, what do you think? You must have an interesting vantage point, as someone who writes about this.
Ha! Well, sure. I personally think we’re at a turning point where consumers, investors, employees – they want accountability. They want their leaders to make good on the promises they set out in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. So yes, I think there will be more pressure going forward, which could bring about change.
That makes me hopeful. You know, I really, really hope that we’re not going to waste this crisis.