Salesforce’s Benioff says racial parity in tech a must
‘Taking on inequality is your responsibility as a leader,’ CEO says
Business software company Salesforce.com will name a chief equality officer who will report to CEO Marc Benioff, who called on the tech industry to strive for “greater racial equality.”
The announcement, made by Benioff during an onstage interview at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, reflects the increasing emphasis being placed on diversity efforts in the Silicon Valley executive suite. Benioff, a well-known philanthropist, is an influential leader in Silicon Valley.
“Taking on inequality is your responsibility as a leader,” Benioff said.
Benioff is one of a growing number of technology chief executives who have staked their leadership on improving the lopsided demographics of the tech industry. That kind of investment from the top is crucial to the success of diversity efforts, consultants say.
Salesforce.com has to “own these issues, specifically so that, on a regular day-to-day basis, this is in my mind, and that I know that I haven’t just delegated it down to the functional organizations,” Benioff said.
Benioff did not say who would be tapped as chief equality officer nor what responsibilities that person would have. The appointment is expected next week. A company spokeswoman declined to comment.
Salesforce.com suffers from the same lack of diversity as the rest of Silicon Valley tech companies. At Salesforce, seven out of 10 employees and eight out of 10 senior leaders around the globe are men. Like other major tech companies, gender is not the only gap facing Salesforce.com. In the U.S., 2% of Salesforce employees are African American and 4% are Hispanic.
Salesforce.com came under fire last year from people of color for focusing diversity efforts on closing the gender gap. Tuesday, Benioff made a strong statement on the importance of closing the racial gap in tech.
“I believe that we have to have greater racial equality in our industry,” Benioff said. “We have to move our standards up. We have to move the numbers up.”
“We have to move our standards up,” Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says.