As we previously reported, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has become the hammer that is most heavily pounding on Indiana governor Mike Pence to change a controversial law that could encourage discrimination against gay people.
Pence held a press conference on Tuesday promising to “fix” the law.
Business Insider just spoke to Benioff and asked him if he’s satisfied with that.
Short answer: No.
“We see the governor saying he’s going to make changes. Now the next step is we want to see him actually make them,” Benioff told us. “We’re not going to stop until the new law is done.”
He also told us that the campaign to fix the Indiana law has already caused at least one other state, Georgia, to put the brakes on a similar law. (Salesforce also has offices in Atlanta.)
To recap: Salesforce is the largest tech employer in Indiana. It has, for weeks, lobbied the state not to pass the law for fear that it would allow business owners, citing their religious beliefs, to discriminate against its employees or customers who are members of the LGBT community.
Pence argued that the law, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, does not allow discrimination. But after the bill was signed, some lawmakers admitted that businesses would be allowed to post “No Gays allowed” signs in areas within Indiana.
After the law was signed, Benioff announced that he would reduce investment in the state and immediately canceled all events held there, as well as halting all employee travel to the state. One big Salesforce event can bring in $US8 to $US9 million of revenue to the city, MSNBC reported.
Business Insider: Right now, you cancelled all events and said you are not going to make further investment in Indiana. Now it looks like Indiana will reverse its position. When are you going to reinstate events?
Marc Benioff: As soon as the new law is in place. We’re not going to stop until the new law is done. We’ve seen them make a lot of progress. I thought today’s press conference was very optimistic. But until the new law is in place, we’re going to continue our campaign.
Today we moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2. We see the governor saying he’s going to make changes. Now the next step is we want to see him actually make them.
BI: From the research I’ve done, I’ve seen a lot of notes of condemnation. People saying ‘maybe we’ll move our events if we hear things are really bad.‘ But I haven’t seen too many companies take as strong as action as Salesforce. What other actions are you aware of?
MB: People have definitely taken specific actions including Angie’s List, putting their project on hold. I’ve heard of other companies saying they are redacting their investment until there’s clarity of the law. [Note: Angie’s List indefinitely halted the $US40 million expansion of its headquarters.]
BI: People are now looking at Arkansas and other states working on similar laws. If you are successful in Indiana, do you think that will be influential in some of these other states?
MB: It is being influential already. We saw in Georgia that the Georgia law did not proceed because they thought the same thing was going to happen to them. Georgia has a big tech component and we have big office in Atlanta.
In a rural state like in Arkansas it will be a different ball game for sure. We don’t have employees in Arkansas.
[Note: Georgia cancelled a meeting to discuss a similar law. Arkansas on Tuesday passed a similar bill and the governor is expected to sign it.]