Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is in Washington this week, meeting with politicians and speaking about bias at Facebook, immigration and -- of course -- women in the workplace.
Sandberg met with several politicians on both sides of the aisle Wednesday and Thursday, including the members of the GOP’s High-Tech Task Force, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the House Democratic innovation working group and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
Facebook will also be holding an innovation pop-up in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, showcasing its virtual-reality headset, the Oculus Rift.
Sandberg, a D.C. native who worked at the Treasury Department early in her career, told a crowd at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday afternoon that Facebook meets with politicians to make sure the United States has the “right regulatory and policy environment” for tech to thrive.
What does that mean? Sandberg told AEI’s Arthur Brooks at the event that it includes a free and open Internet and an immigration system that allows for Facebook to hire the highly skilled workers from overseas it needs to fill its positions.
"We've taken jobs for people that we wanted to hire in the United States and had to move them overseas," Sandberg said, noting that the quotas for visas are hampering Facebook's ability to keep jobs in the United States. "We are trying to conduct a majority of our business here, and we need the immigration system that lets us do that."
The trip, in part, showed Facebook's political sophistication — even in the aftermath of a crisis. She also addressed the trending topics controversy, confirming that Facebook will add a "political bias" scenario to the mandatory bias training that its executives must take.
Sandberg said that, in a perfect world, Facebook would not have humans curate its trending topics, but that it's required for quality control -- otherwise, she said, "lunch" would trend every day at noon.
But news expertise, she said, is not something Facebook is trying to foster. “We’re a tech company, we’re not a media company," she said. "We’re not trying to hire journalists, and we’re not trying to write news.”
Facebook is also in town to show off some of its technology, in the form of the Rift, to show off its potential. Sandberg said the pop-up will include a video called "Clouds over Sidra" that follows in the footsteps of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee.
Virtual reality is "not just fun, it's actually the ultimate empathy device," Sandberg said, because it allows people to experience the world through other people's eyes — if not exactly, then certainly close to realistically.
Her visit also comes as the Facebook executive launches the next stage of the Lean In campaign, which encourages women to support each other. The group launched a star-studded video featuring Kerry Washington, Serena Williams and others, encouraging women to #LeaninTogether rather than focusing on asking men to offer support to the women in their lives.
"We'd like to not have to exist because we've achieved equality and everyone's leaning in all the time," she said. "But the goal is very simple: equality in the workplace and equality in the home."