Before Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff became one of the most powerful figures in Silicon Valley, he was just a young college student at USC’s business school.
But looking back, Benioff says there was one important topic that was often overlooked by the school’s curriculum: equality.
“I went to USC business school, and they don’t have a class on equality,” Benioff said Tuesday at the annual Techonomy conference.
Benioff says this becomes a serious issue because it fails to train CEOs to think more deeply about equal pay and equal opportunity within their organisations.
They can easily talk about things like growth, innovation, and customer trust, but they’re still not used to having a discussion over equality as one of the core values of the company, he says.
“‘What’s your position on equality?’ is not a question CEOs are accustomed to getting,” Benioff said. “How many companies in the world have equality as a core value?”
Benioff isn’t just talking the talk. Lately, Benioff has been really vocal on social justice and work equality.
At a recent Fortune event, he revealed that Salesforce spent $US3 million to give raises to underpaid female employees, to ensure women are paid the same as men. Earlier this year, Benioff was one of the first CEOs to take action against Indiana’s state law that would have encouraged discrimination against gay people.
Benioff’s idea is that businesses have to go beyond focusing on shareholder value, and pay more attention to “stakeholders,” like customers, employees, and the community. By doing good for all involved parties, you can grow the business even further, his thinking goes, as he likes to point to Salesforce’s record-high share price as evidence.
“The CEOs of the future will talk about how companies create more equality,” Benioff said.
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