Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg on Sunday said companies should back stronger corporate policies to bring in equal pay for women. She said the gender pay gap can end only when companies begin to pay women well.

Sandberg made the comments while speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday. She emphasised that it was wrong to not encourage girls to lead at a young age. “I believe everyone has inside them the ability to lead, and we should let people choose that not based on their gender but on who they are and who they want to be,” the senior Facebook executive said.

She further said she had discovered that women were more likely to underestimate their own worth more than men, which prevented them from asking for a pay rise. “Certainly, women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that has got to be part of the answer,” Sandberg, the author of the 2013 book Lean In said.

Her comments come after BBC was forced to reveal the pay of its journalists earlier in July, which showed wide wage gaps between the broadcaster’s female and male presenters.