COMMENTARY: Walk that talk, Sheryl Sandberg - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

COMMENTARY: Facebook COO's declaration not enough

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says she leaves the office by 5:30 each day, and has done so for years. (Source: Facebook) Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says she leaves the office by 5:30 each day, and has done so for years. (Source: Facebook)

(RNN) -  Are we chattel or are we women?

I ask because sometimes I lose track.

With all the talk about "mommy wars" and stay-at-home moms with a case of the lazies, and COOs taking stands against remaining at work past 5:30, and all those bills introduced by "conservative" (read: GOP) lawmakers attempting to legislate our uteruses (uteri?), sometimes I can't tell.

Last week, Hilary Rosen hacked off the right and the left equally when she said – quite caustically – that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, "never worked a day in her life" because she stayed home to raise five kids.

The on-camera, in-character, "I better hop on the bandwagon fast" furor came from all directions.

You could almost hear the collective glee with which the GOPers assailed Rosen's comments. Never had a greater media opportunity for a prospective president been created. Even I erped a groan or two the first 200 times I saw this on CNN.

And now, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (is she related to Andy? No, that's Samberg. Nevermind.) declared, rather sheepishly, I think, that she leaves the office at the crack of 5:30 every day so she can be home with her children.

While I can appreciate Sandberg's "coming out" in defense of all of us working mothers, I wonder what her goals were with her declaration.

Will she then go back to Facebook and tell all her underlings that, really, it's OK to leave after eight hours because I said so? What about 99 percent of Facebook workers who don't have assigned parking or a corner office? Can they leave at 5:30 also?

Will she institute a policy that helps retain female executives before they "opt out?" Will Facebook hire female programmers and marketers at the same rate as their male counterparts? Will she log off her computer and put it away after her kids have gone to bed – and insist her direct reports do the same?

Will she look toward accomplishment and leadership as a yardstick for success and not just hours logged in the office?

Yes, Sandberg had good intentions. But I think she further highlights the differences between the handful at the top of corporate America and the rest of us.

I mean, I work hard. Ask my 3-year-old, who once dissolved into a puddle on the floor when she looked up and noticed I was dressed for work one morning. Or that she regularly, heartbreakingly declares, "Mommy, you came back!" when I walk in the door.

Ask my husband who has delivered the dreaded "U" word more than once during our marriage afflicted by my "career."  (That would be "ultimatum," for all of you playing along.)

It strikes me that there is Sandberg's reality – she sits at the top of the food chain after years and years of (I am positive) 12-hour days – and there are mine and your realities.

We work as long as necessary to get the job done either for the sake of just doing our jobs, or with the hope of getting noticed by those already at the top, who will bestow the blessing of advancement and opportunity.

I don't have an Ivy League degree. I didn't work for the Treasury. I don't have nannies. I don't have private schools or even my mother nearby. I do what I have to do to help put food on the table.

This is my only option. (And if my bosses are reading, I love my job I love my job I love my job.)

A fan of WAFF-TV's Facebook page, Cindy Appleby, agrees with those who say nowadays, you would be hard-pressed to find a company – much less a boss – who gets it.

"Most companies don't care," she said. "You either work the long, long hours they want you to, or you look for another job."

It's nice that Sandberg took a high-profile stand. I mean, it's a start. But what I want to know is this: What happens now that her proverbial cat is out of the bag? Her words are nice, but what will she do now?

Besides make it home for dinner.

Michelle Jones is the executive producer for Raycom's digital news hub. She has three beautiful daughters and a step-son.

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