Some leaders speak out about issues related to fairness and social justice. But only a few follow through.
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, has a longstanding interest in promoting philanthropy. He introduced the 1:1:1 pledge in which companies donate 1% of their equity to charity, 1% of their employees’ time to community service and 1% of their product to nonprofits and higher education.
In addition to inventing the 1:1:1 model and prodding other companies to follow it, Benioff has contributed $200 million of his own money to build a children’s hospital in his hometown of San Francisco.
In 2015, he went a step further. Concerned about pay equity among his 17,000 employees, he instructed his human resources team to scrutinize the compensation of all female staffers to ensure that their salaries were aligned with their male counterparts. He then authorized $3 million to adjust female pay to match male pay.
For a company worth $52 billion, that’s hardly a huge expenditure. But it signals Benioff’s seriousness in addressing the equal-pay issue.
Rather than bask in the glow of his good deed, Benioff lamented that he didn’t act sooner. In a CNN interview, he said he wished he could go back in time to 1999—when he founded Salesforce—and make attaining women’s equality at work a plank in the company’s founding mission.
“Looking back 16 years, that was as big an issue as the philanthropy issue is for me now,” he said.
— Adapted from “Salesforce CEO: I didn’t focus on hiring women then. But I am now,” Poppy Harlow, money.cnn.com.