NBA Teams With Sheryl Sandberg to 'Lean In' for Women and Equality

The toddler wage gap is real, says Facebook COO.

ByABC News
March 4, 2015, 4:28 PM

— -- David Muir interviewed Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on a basketball court – a location Sandberg dubbed as “perfect.” The setting complemented the recent initiative from Sandberg’s organization LeanIn.Org, which has partnered with the NBA to encourage men to support women at home and in the workplace.

The NBA produced a PSA highlighting her campaign, ”#LeanInTogether,” featuring stars from the NBA and WNBA. Sandberg says she's thrilled with the partnership and lauded the NBA for recognizing that “men should not just be the center of the court, but they should be the center of the fight for equality.”

Sandberg hopes the NBA’s PSA will have a profound impact on its followers. In the spot, the Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade says: "I'm leaning in for my wife, my mother, my grandmother." Elena Delle Donne, who plays for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, added: “My brother would always pick me above of his friends to be on his basketball teams." Sue Bird of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm affirmed that “it’s moments like that that you carry with you forever.”

The players spoke out as fathers, sons and husbands. Men are vital to the fight for women’s equality, which Sandberg emphasizes benefits them as well. ”Equality is good for men, too...when men support women at work, they outperform their peers. When men are 50/50 partners at home, their relationships are stronger, and they have more sex. And when they're active fathers, their kids are healthier, happier, more successful … I tell men, ‘Don't buy flowers, do laundry,’” she noted.

By doing their share of household chores, Sandberg says men are subliminally empowering their daughters. She cites a study that shows girls by the age of 14 have “broader career aspirations” if they live in households where fathers are actively involved in chores. “No amount of, ‘You can do anything, dear,’ is actually as important as your daughter seeing you doing the dishes,’ says Sandberg.

Inequality starts at home per Sandberg and at a very young age. “We have a toddler wage gap in this country,” she insists. “We pay little boys more for chores than little girls, and they do fewer of them.” The “toddler wage gap” is based on the difference in chores allotted to boys and girls, says Sandberg. “Boys take out the trash, girls set the table, and boys get paid more. But we can change this. Both of your kids can take out the trash,” according to Sandberg, who said she implements this at home.

Women’s equality is good for business according to Warren Buffet and Sandberg, who in addition to her Facebook duties is also on the board of The Walt Disney Co., ABC News’ parent company. “Warren Buffett has famously said, one of the reasons he did so well, because he was only competing with half the population,” points out Sandberg.

She and Wharton Professor Adam Grant have co-authored four essays for a “NY Times” series on women at work. In their fourth installment, they quote Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, whose company went public and became the largest tech IPO of all time, saying “one of the secret sauces for Alibaba’s success is that we have a lot of women.” Women hold 47 percent of all jobs at Alibaba and 33 percent of senior positions. Sandberg tells Muir that companies with more women, and more diverse leadership, outperform others.

Women tend to do more “housework” at work, per Sandberg. Women are “taking notes, planning the parties, doing the communal stuff, helping others. And it's not benefiting them, because when women do it, people don't notice. But when men do those same things, they get raises, bonuses, a lot of favors paid back,” she points out. Therefore, she concludes that women should do fewer of these chores at more and men should do more – to the benefit of both genders. She cautions that the person taking the notes “almost never makes the killer point” and so when both genders do the chores, both should be celebrated for it whether in the workplace or at home.

At, Sandberg’s foundation has practical, everyday things men and women can do for work, for home and for managers as well. A simple one to do, said Sandberg, is if the family is going out to eat, let the young daughter order for the family at the restaurant. Equal chores for equal pay is obviously a must.

If men have any doubts of the importance of women in their success, Sandberg suggests they watch the speech Kevin Durant gave when he became MVP last year: “He said that his mother was the real MVP, that she's the one who took care of them, make sure he could eat when there wasn't enough food for him--for her, made sure that he had the opportunities to stand up there and get that award.”

Dwyane Wade agrees and says in the NBA PSA, “When men lean in, everyone wins.”

Visit #LeanInTogether, or LeanIn.Org to learn more.