Sheryl Sandberg on how Facebook is helping map Covid-19
New York (CNN Business)Sheryl Sandberg didn’t make a habit of celebrating her birthday until her husband Dave Goldberg died in 2015. Now, she’s grateful to celebrate every year.
It’s the kind of “post-traumatic growth” she’s encouraging people to tap into now as they grapple with loss and hardship caused by coronavirus, the Facebook (FB) COO told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview Monday.
In addition to her role at Facebook, Sandberg is the author of “Option B,” a book she wrote in 2017 with psychologist and Wharton School professor Adam Grant about grieving and building resilience in the face of trauma.
“Resilience is not a thing we get a little bit of when we’re born. Resilience is a muscle and we build it,” Sandberg said. “We build it in ourselves, and we build it in each other. It’s about how quickly we recover and rebound from the worst events of life. And right now, everyone’s living in Option B.”
Sandberg said she and Grant are releasing a portion of the book for free in an effort to help people cope with the pandemic. She told Harlow that her family is grappling with their own coronavirus-related loss: the death of her fiance’s cousin. Sandberg got engaged to Kelton Global CEO Tom Bernthal in February.
“We’re like so many other families where we’re mourning the loss of someone who was so important in his whole life, so important to the whole family, and not able to come together and have a funeral,” Sandberg said.
She urged people who know someone facing death or loss to reach out — and keep reaching out.
“One of the things that happens when people face loss is they then face a lot of silence from other people. People call the first week … but then after that they don’t know what to say,” Sandberg said. “Remembering to call and reach out not just day one but day five and year five, is a really important part of this.”
Sandberg said it’s also important for communities to build “collective resilience,” encouraging people to support one another despite coronavirus keeping people physically apart.
She referenced an example of collective resilience from a Facebook user: a woman who has asthma and a newborn baby, but whose husband is an emergency room doctor treating coronavirus patients. The woman used Facebook to find a stranger to lend the family an RV for the husband to sleep in, and then the woman started a Facebook group to connect RV owners with healthcare workers.
“That is people helping other people, but also that story shows how communities come together and give a lot of people a lot of hope that they’ll get through this crisis, which in turn builds that resilience muscle for everyone involved,” she said.
Sandberg also spoke about Facebook’s efforts to contribute to that collective resilience, which include combating coronavirus misinformation on its platforms and a new partnership with Carnegie Mellon University that will gather data on the spread of coronavirus symptoms.
The company also plans to provide $100 million in grants to small businesses struggling because of coronavirus, including $40 million in grants to American small businesses, many of which have had trouble accessing federal assistance.
Facebook has also canceled all in-person employee gatherings of more than 50 people through June 2021. Sandberg added that the company told workers to expect not to return to the office until at least the end of May and possibly longer. She said Facebook is paying “absolutely everyone,” including contractors, part-time workers and employees whose jobs cannot be done from home, during the disruption.
“Every single one of us has a deep responsibility to do what they can,” she said.
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