Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is not happy at the thought that his one-time adversary, Indiana governor Mike Pence, might soon be the a key player in the nation’s next White House administration, he told an audience at the Disrupt tech conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.
“One of the things that’s very important to us [at Salesforce] is LGBTQ equality,” Benioff said on stage Tuesday. “You referenced Mike Pence in Indiana who signed a law basically repressing the rights of the LGBTQ community in Indiana that we had to fight back. And we were able to do something very important. We turned back the law.”
But he warned that the bigger battle over equality isn’t over yet. “It doesn’t seem possible because here we are in San Francisco, the city of love. but it is. There’s a lot of sh-t going on out there. … You’ve got a set of people who have a lot of hate in their hearts,” he said.
“The people need to take a stand. If you don’t take a stand, then I will tell you, there are a lot of people in this country, Mike Pence and others, who are going to do some very bad things to the people that we love,” he warned (emphasis ours).
Benioff and Pence had a big showdown last year when Indiana passed a controversial law that some claimed would legalise discrimination against gay people in the state. Salesforce is the state’s largest employer, and Benioff and other business leaders had warned Pence that they would reduce investment in the state if the law was passed.
The fight escalated after the bill was signed, until Pence agreed to modify the bill with language that made it harder for the law to be used to justify discrimination.
As for what Benioff is doing inside his own company, he said he’s focused on making sure that equality happens at every level, from equal pay to women to racial equality.
Next week, at his company’s huge annual tech conference in San Francisco, he will be announcing the appointment of a chief equality officer, reporting to him, he said. The goal with this new position is to make sure that Benioff stays informed and involved in all the diversity, equal pay and other issues going on his company.