Salesforce is applying an incredibly simple data strategy to address the gender gap

Salesforce Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet. Getty Images
  • Salesforce gives leaders of a team of 30 or more people a scorecard to track how often they promote and hire women.
  • To date, the company is 31.6% female, up from 30.1% two years ago.
  • Tony Prophet, the company’s chief equality officer, said the practice allows managers to actively address how they created a more diverse company month by month.
  • Salesforce also audits the pay of every employee to ensure no man makes more than a woman for equal work.
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At Salesforce, diversity has a scorecard.

The San Francisco-based cloud-computing company hands out monthly scorecards to managers of a team of 30 or more, and they must report how many women they hired and promoted that month.

“I think it’s super important for all organisations to be transparent about their representation, for better or for worse,” said Tony Prophet, Salesforce’s chief equality officer, at the New York Times New Rules Summit this week.

The scorecard allows every manager, even the top executive leadership, to see exactly how much progress they are making in creating a more diverse company, “When folks see this data they say, ‘Are you proud of this data? Does this look like society?'” Prophet said. “Data: That’s the fuel of management and management science.”

The practice has been around for at least one year. To date, the company is 31.6% female, up from 30.1% two years ago. Prophet said Salesforce hired 4,000 women in the last year alone.

The scorecards, Prophet said, also holds male executives accountable for mentoring and promoting their female employees. After the fallout from the #MeToo Movement, where women reported instances of sexual harassment en masse against powerful men, 60% of male managers feel scared to have one-on-one meetings with their female employees.

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Many tech companies have come under fire for their treatment of female employees. At Uber, a former engineer detailed her experience with sexual harassment, leading to a company-wide investigation. Internal records at Microsoft revealed that women feel sexism holds them back from career advancement.

Research shows that the gender divide in tech starts early: young girls get less attention during science and maths classes in school, according to a 2012 study in Gender & Society. Even when girls are good at science and maths in middle school, they begin dropping out of maths competitions in the ninth grade.

Salesforce’s also made headlines in the past for how it addressed the gender wage gap among employees.

Two years ago, Salesforce audited every salary at the company to find that men made a total of $US3 million more than women in similar positions across the organisation. Women in tech get paid 16% less than men on average in the US, but the divide is much higher in Silicon Valley.

The company then raised each salary of a female employees making less than her male counterpart, amounting to 10% of women at the company worldwide.

“The company made a commitment to make folks whole,” Prophet said. “And we’ve continued that practice year in and year out.”