At a time when there is a deep divide across political, racial, gender and economic lines, tackling hard challenges such as equality to create social change is a bold move for a company.
I joined Salesforce over eight years ago during a time of explosive growth and exciting change, and have been fortunate enough to hold a variety of roles on many different teams. Yet throughout the years, one thing has remained consistent: our welcoming and giving culture. Salesforce employees fully embrace our value of equality for all, and encourage new and innovative ideas to take shape. Our culture gives us our competitive advantage, and perhaps more importantly, transcends the business world and aims to create social change.
Salesforce has been intentional in taking steps to advance equality, increasing community outreach and achieving equal pay. Yet in order to achieve true equality, we need every leader, manager, and employee at our company — and every company — to embrace people of all identities and backgrounds. Equality is not just the responsibility of business leaders and CEOs … it is up to all of us.
As Salesforce’s October Woman of the Month, I’d like to take this opportunity to share my personal perspectives about workplace equality and diversity. Hopefully, if we all make equality and diversity a priority, we will be able to drive positive social change and make a significant contribution to improving the state of the world.
1. Remember your roots.
I arrived in the U.S. in my late teens, full of drive and ambition. Like many others, I had to adapt and persevere, and had no choice but to open myself up to new possibilities. I believe, in a sense, we are all immigrants – every one of us has a rich family history, and our diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds result in different perspectives and powerful contributions. Building a team and organization of people with diverse backgrounds will lead to innovative thinking, creative solutions, and undeniable progress.
2. Value others for who they are and what they do.
I recently read a debate about why Hollywood superhero movies are reluctant to include LGBT characters. Would Batman be any less formidable at fighting crime if he was gay? I think not. These characters should be able to live their lives and do their jobs regardless of how they identify themselves. Similarly, at work, we should shift our thinking and appreciate people for how well they do their jobs, rather than who they love or what they look like.
3. Take a chance on hiring moms (and dads).
Offering flexible work options for working moms and dads who want to balance life at home is a smart way to capitalize on an underutilized and highly qualified workforce. As a working mother, I’m constantly perfecting the art of spinning 100 plates in the air at once. That means I know how to ruthlessly prioritize, get things done with disciplined focus on results, and motivate others with equal doses of praise and tough love… all things that help me succeed in the workplace.
4. Invest in girls’ education and STEM programs.
During Dreamforce, our annual conference, I stopped by the Kids Coding Camp. I saw two dozen boys engaged in programming their Lego robotics, and just one lone girl… and it really struck me. Even though companies like Salesforce are very committed to supporting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and organizations like Black Girls Code and Coder Dojo, we still have a long way to go to narrow the gender gap. We all need to not only conduct trainings, but also offer internships to young women and hire them for entry-level positions.
5. Promote based on merit.
I applaud programs that invest in underrepresented groups in order to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. However, I believe promotions should be merit-based, so that they will not be viewed simply as “meeting the quota.” For example, at Salesforce, our Woman of the Month campaign turns the spotlight on our high-performing women, giving them an opportunity be recognized and express their views (as I’m doing now). While this is a terrific program, I believe achieving true equality means that one day, we won’t need it. Instead of Woman of the Month, it will be a Person of the Month. And I look forward to that day.
We are all on this path to equality together – not just Salesforce employees, but also our customers, partners, and members of our community. This Salesforce family, our Ohana, has an incredible opportunity to engage our community and ecosystem in creating positive change with long-lasting impact, and I can’t wait to see the progress we make.