Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit Lean In
found itself in the midst of a minor scandal this week.
The organisation dedicated to getting women to “lean in” and ask for more money, to be more involved in corporate decisions, to be more outspoken, was hiring unpaid interns.
Unpaid interns? It seems very much like a lean-out thing. As a result people started talking about the hypocrisy of the organisation.
It looked especially bad because Sandberg is almost a billionaire thanks to her Facebook stock. She just cleared $US91 million in a Facebook stock sale.
After all the blow-back, Lean In has adjusted its policies. It is now going to pay its interns.
I am Rachel Thomas, the president of LeanIn.Org.
We recognise there is an ongoing public debate on the appropriate use of unpaid interns. So we want to share the facts with you and our community.
Like many nonprofits, LeanIn.Org has attracted volunteers who are passionate about our mission. We’ve had four students ask to volunteer with us. They worked flexibly when they could, and often remotely.
These volunteers helped support our message and community, and gained valuable experience doing so. They did not displace or delay the hiring of paid employees. The posting that prompted this discussion was for a position that doesn’t fall within LeanIn.Org’s definition of a “volunteer.”
As a startup, we haven’t had a formal internship program. Moving forward we plan to, and it will be paid.
We support equality – and that includes fair pay – and we’ll continue to push for change in our own organisation and our broader community.