A Facebook chief talks about why Zuckerberg's famous 'Will you resign?' email was actually inspirational

Red mark zuckerberg angry facebook ceoJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFacebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent the entire workforce an email in 2010 with the subject line “Will you resign?” after an employee leaked some ultra-sensitive company information.

Zuckerberg urged the leaker to quit, saying they clearly didn’t share Facebook’s values and even if they didn’t resign, they would be found out eventually.

For many people, this type of email could provoke sweaty palms — what if I’m next?

But Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of Europe, Middle East, and Asia at Facebook, says the email is actually a positive signal about what it’s like to work at the tech giant.

Speaking at the Financial Times Women at the Top event in London on Thursday, Mendelsohn said: “I was not working at Facebook at the time, but it reminded me of that famous ‘West Wing’ [TV show] speech where the character Toby Ziegler [the fictional White House Communications Director] brought everyone together as a team.

The speech in the “West Wing” mirrored what happened at Facebook. Someone on the staff leaked damaging information and when the character Ziegler brought all the staff into a meeting room, they thought they would all be fired. Instead, the character Ziegler said:

“We’re a group. We’re a team. From the President and Leo on through, we’re a team. We win together, we lose together. We celebrate and we mourn together. And defeats are softened and victories sweeter because we did them together… You’re my guys and I’m yours… and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.”

Here is the speech:

Mendelsohn says that, like Toby’s speech, Zuckerberg’s email wasn’t a threat but a reiteration of how important culture is at the tech giant and the fact that that everyone shares the “same values.”

Leaking the damaging information “was not the Facebook way,” she says, and: “What that person did went against everything about the culture.”

“There is a power of culture, culture is vital to Facebook,” Mendelsohn said at the event. “Culture changes attitudes and behaviours — better than any policy or target.”

Mendelsohn joined Facebook in 2013 and is currently the co-chair of the Creative Industries Council. She was also the first woman president of the influential advertising trade body IPA and the former president of the Women in Advertising and Communications London club (WACL). Her work has earned her the award of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the creative industries here in the UK.

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