Salesforce CEO Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is in Dealing with Wage Inequality

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Salesforce, a customer relationship management service based in San Francisco, is one of many tech companies at which there has been gender inequality with regard to pay and advancement. What makes Salesforce different is that its CEO, Marc Benioff, is not only committed to fixing the problem, but is actually and actively doing something about it – to the tune of $3 Million (so far)!

It all started when, earlier this year, two of his female employees – a VP named Leyla Seka, and their Head of HR Cindy Robbins – approached him about the pay issue, sparking an audit of everyone’s salary. Thing is, Benioff had already proven sympathetic to greater equality and achievement for the women at his company. An internal program he launched in 2013, Women’s Surge, was designed to place more women in leadership positions. Seka was herself a beneficiary of that program. So, Seka and Robbins approached him knowing that he was already on board the equality train.

After the audit, adjusting salaries to make them equal has cost Salesforce about $3 Million so far (the company made $5 Billion in revenue in 2015), which shows the level of commitment this particular CEO has on this issue. Earlier this week, Benioff told the Fortune Global Forum that, “We’ve looked at every single female employee’s salary, so we can say we pay women the same as we pay men.”

Earlier this year, when he announced that he was doing this, he told the Huffington Post that “My job is to make sure that women are treated 100 percent equally at Salesforce in pay, opportunity and advancement.”

This is a big deal, because not only is this happening at Salesforce, but Benioff is being really public about it, which will hopefully encourage other tech companies to take similar steps as usually, when companies do these kinds of audits, its usually quiet, and usually just to highlight any red flags for potential lawsuits. However, several tech companies like Pinterest have followed Salesforce’s lead and are in the process of doing similar audits and making similar corrections. See, Corporate America? It IS possible!

In a blog post, Robbins details how these actions have benefitted Salesforce so far, including in the advancement of female employees:

More than a year ago, we set and achieved a goal of having women make up at least one third of the attendees at our executive management meetings and one third of the speakers at our customer events to reflect the makeup of our female population. I’m proud to say that these efforts to create more development opportunities for our female employees are working. In the past 12 months ending July 31, 2015, the number of women that were promoted in the last year increased by 33%—moving from 24% to 32%.

Obviously, there’s always more to be done, as it takes a lot to undo systemic sexism. As Benioff said to the New York Times this summer:

We have a ways to go. If we started the company again, we would have a 50-50 ratio among employees, engineers and leaders. But once you get this big, it’s hard.

Still, he’s doing something about it now, and that’s huge. Kudos, not only to Benioff, but to the women who brought this to his attention and encouraged him to take these steps. It’s often difficult for women to speak up in the workplace for various reasons, but this is how change happens. Women have to stand up and fight for each other – and men have to join them.

(via HuffPost Tech)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.