Facebook's public policy chief has apologised to an investor after she accused him of making a 'sexist' remark to her

  • Business Insider has learned that Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy, apologised to an investor who accused him of making a “sexist” remark to her.
  • Natasha Lamb, a managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said Schrage refused to engage with her and said she was “not nice” after she raised concerns about Facebook’s gender pay gap.
  • Writing in the Financial Times, Lamb said she was “dismissed in a sexist way for trying to call Facebook out on problems that are specifically related to gender.”
  • A Facebook spokeswoman, who witnessed the exchange between Schrage and Lamb, told Business Insider that Facebook has listened to Lamb’s concerns numerous times, and pays men and women equally.

Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy has apologised to an investor after she accused him of making a sexist remark to her at the company’s shareholder meeting last month.

The executive, Elliot Schrage, apologised to Natasha Lamb, a managing partner at Arjuna Capital, after an exchange at the end of Facebook’s investor meeting where she raised concerns about Facebook’s gender pay gap and other scandals, including fake news and hate speech.

Writing in the Financial Times on Monday, Lamb accused Schrage of shutting her down. “He told me that the company was not engaging with me because I’m ‘not nice’,” she wrote in an opinion piece about the encounter, which took place on May 31.

Lamb wrote that she was “stunned” by the remark, adding that she had been “dismissed in a sexist way for trying to call Facebook out on problems that are specifically related to gender.” She continued: “I cannot imagine a scenario where a male company executive ignores a male institutional investor with such an excuse.”

Vanessa Chan, ‎director of corporate and financial communications at Facebook, was witness to the conversation at the investor meeting. She told Business Insider that Schrage has said sorry to Lamb, and made clear that the company had listened to her concerns on a number of occasions.

“Elliot has already apologised to Natasha Lamb. As she acknowledges herself, Facebook has engaged with her several times on these issues – in 2016, 2017, and 2018, including two days before the recent shareholder meeting,” Chan said. “Facebook has a history of engaging with shareholders constructively especially on diversity issues.”

She added: “Facebook pays women and men the same the for the same work, and we’re also committed to increasing the number of women and people from other underrepresented groups across the company.”

Arjuna Capital has $US250 million in holdings in some of America’s biggest companies and has been campaigning on the issue of gender pay for years. Facebook has reported that it has paid men and women equally for the past three years, across its operations globally.

“We have implemented a variety of internal practices and processes, including a compensation system that is intentionally formulaic, to ensure pay parity year-round,” Lori Goler, Facebook’s head of HR, said in an update on gender pay in April.

Business Insider has contacted Lamb for comment.

Her criticism of Facebook comes against a backdrop of shareholder unrest at Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been challenged for running the company like a “dictatorship” at the shareholder meeting last month. Some investors have called on Facebook to scrap its dual-class share structure, which gives Zuckerberg around 60% of the total voting power.

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