The Ultimate Mentor to Women: Dave Goldberg

As I heard the news about Dave Goldberg's death last weekend, I joined many in feeling the sadness of this loss--to his wife Sheryl Sandberg, his family and friends, his colleagues at the company he headed as CEO (SurveyMonkey), and to the technology industry, where Goldberg inspired many.

The loss also extends to women in the industry, and to anyone who cares about women's leadership development, because of the important role that Goldberg played in prioritizing women's advancement over the decades of his career--long before it became fashionable to do so.

I've often talked about men being part of the solution to women's advancement rather than being the problem--and Goldberg's actions model exactly this. The New York Times reported this week that Goldberg was a "lifelong women's advocate" and "perhaps the signature male feminist of his era." The article cited many examples of this, starting back in his teens when he admonished his prom date for not speaking up and sharing her important views in a politics class, and moving into more recent days as a senior executive.

"[W]hen Karen Gilford, an early employee at Launch Media, Mr. Goldberg's digital music company, became a mother, he knew exactly what to do," reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times. "He kept giving her challenging assignments, she recalled, but also let her work from home one day a week."

Goldberg also reportedly advised the men in his office on "family and partnership matters," about which he knew a great deal as a father of two who prioritized work-life balance. It was well-known in Silicon Valley that the power pair would leave their offices at 5:30 as often as possible to eat dinner with their kids, setting a solid example of better balance than is typically shown in the industry. He didn't hesitate to relocate for his wife's equally high-powered career, and reportedly "arranged his schedule so that he could be home with their children when she was traveling for work."

Perhaps even more telling than these personal anecdotes is the fact that Goldberg's management team at SurveyMonkey far exceeds the industry average when it comes to female members. Six of the 16 top executives--including the President and CTO--are women, a much higher number than most companies in the Valley with comparable valuation.

When it comes to creating a model for true integrated, gender-balanced leadership, Goldberg set the standard. Through his publicly equal partnership with Sandberg, his encouragement of female leaders in organizations where he worked throughout his career, and his fostering of advancing and retaining more women in senior management roles, Goldberg stands out as the ultimate mentor to women. His words and actions in support of female talent were life-changing to many, and through them, he raised the bar for other men throughout the industry and Corporate America as a whole. He will be sorely missed.