When Marc Benioff first started Salesforce back in 1999, he had three big agendas in mind: to create a “cloud” software delivered over the web; to build a subscription business model charged monthly; and to implement a philanthropic culture where 1% of the equity, profit, and employee time were given to charity.
Over the past 16 years, Benioff has largely been able to achieve all three goals, turning Salesforce into one of the most powerful enterprise software companies in the world. Salesforce is now the largest employer in San Francisco with over 15,000 employees, and is worth about $US47 billion.
Yet, Benioff says he wishes he could go back to the very beginning and add one more important goal to the founding agenda: achieving women’s equality at work.
“I wish honestly that I could rewind time and go back and put that women’s equality issue into the culture from the beginning,” Benioff told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “Looking back 16 years, that was as big an issue as the philanthropy issue is for me now.”
As a first step, Benioff is making sure women are paid equally as men at Salesforce. He’s already shared his plan to get to 100% equal pay back in April, but he reiterated his position during the CNN interview, saying, “I would really like to achieve that within 12 months…we’re committed to women having the same executive roles and all possibilities for them as well.”
For what it’s worth, Benioff added Salesforce’s inequality issues are not as bad as some of its peers in the tech industry. The 20 highest paid women make more than the 20 highest paid men at Salesforce, he said, while adding male employees account for about 71% of total workforce — slightly better than the 80% average in tech.
Salesforce isn’t the only tech company to push for gender equality, but it’s certainly one of the most vocal companies about it. For example, its “Women Surge” program is designed to ensure managers seek out female job candidates while including at least 30% women in meetings.
In fact, Benioff believes gender equality should be one of the performance metrics for every CEO in the country. “Just like a CEO might have a market share goal, or some other type of revenue goal or EPS goal, it has to be a metric that every CEO manages,” he said.