She has only been with us since January 2020, Angelika Gifford has worked for a long time for the American high-tech companies Microsoft and HP, and has sat on numerous supervisory boards. Then, a year and a half ago, she joined one of the most controversial companies around, Facebook. As Europe manager, she is responsible for 34 countries. But she no longer feels new. “47% of the workforce came after me,” says Gifford. In 2020 alone, the California-based company hired around 20,000 new employees worldwide.
Fake news, hate speech, election influence, market dominance – the list of allegations against Facebook is long.In addition to the social platform, the group also includes Instagram and the Whatsapp news service, with a total of 3.4 billion. users around the world. Gifford, who got up early for the SZ summit and logged in from Seattle (which is nine hours earlier), says she holds the “German mirror” in front of Americans and reports in California how good Facebook is critical and controversial in Europe. “I get a lot of attention,” says Gifford. And: “Facebook is not a brand of love all over the world”, so it is not one of the most sought after brands. She is working to change that: “The journey is not over yet.” Many mistakes have been made in the past, but Facebook has learned the lessons and continues to improve the business model.
Open detailed view
Angelika Gifford attends the SZ-Summit on Sustainability and talks to Marc Beise, Head of the Economics Department.
(Photo: Friedrich Bungert / Friedrich Bungert)
Transparency should help
The concept of Gifford and the other managers of Facebook: To create transparency first, it creates trust and it facilitates communication. Facebook just has to have a face. The image could therefore improve. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg runs a phone call of about an hour each week, comments on hot topics, 40 minutes of time he answers all workforce questions. She hasn’t seen something like this very often in European companies, Gifford says.
The group is also committed to sustainable development. Seattle has just been hit by a historic heatwave, it shows here that climate change is not a phenomenon that can be denied – something that still happens too often in the United States. Misleading reports on the subject check Facebook and block them. When it comes to the ecological footprint, the tech industry is doing better overall, as no large production facilities are operated, but large data centers that require a lot of electricity. The group itself has been CO₂ neutral since 2020, Gifford says. All supply chains are also expected to be climate neutral by 2030.