Salesforce employees are upset over the company's work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection as Silicon Valley grapples with the government's use of tech

Justin Sullivan / GettySalesforce CEO Marc Benioff is known for his progressive company policies.
  • More than 650 Salesforce employees reportedly sent a letter to CEO Marc Benioff criticising the company’s work with the U.S. Customers and Border Protection agency.
  • The letter said the company’s values were imperiled by working with the border agency, at a time when parents and children of migrants illegally crossing the border are being separated.
  • A Salesforce representative said the company was not working with the agency with regards to “separation of families at the border.”

Salesforce is the latest tech company to come under fire as Silicon Valley struggles to reconcile its progressive ethos with much coveted and highly-valuable government contracts.

More than 650 Salesforce employees sent an email to CEO Marc Benioff last week criticising the company’s work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, according to Bloomberg.

“Given the inhuman separation from their parents currently taking place at the border, we believe that our core value of Equality is at stake and that Salesforce should re-examine our contractual relationship with CBP and speak out against its practices,” the letter says, according to Bloomberg.

Salesforce, which is known for selling customer relationship management software to sales and marketing teams, has a strong progressive ethos, guided in part by Benioff’s public speaking on issues like gender wage equality, and sizable corporate and personal donations to issues like homelessness in San Francisco.

Like many other tech companies, Salesforce had a branded float in the San Francisco pride parade on Sunday. The company even threatened to reduce its investment in Indiana in response to anti-gay legislation in the state in 2016.

Salesforce’s strong reputation as a progressive company is part of the concerned employees’ argument for why Salesforce should stop working with the CBP.

“Many of us choose to work at Salesforce because of Salesforce’s reputation as a company that stands up against injustice,” the letter says. “We want our work at Salesforce to have a positive impact on our friends and neighbours, not to make us complicit in the inhumane treatment of vulnerable people.”

In March, Salesforce publicly announced its work with CBP, which is part of the US Department of Homeland Security and is one of the agencies tasked with enforcing President Trump’s Mexico border policies, as an opportunity to “modernise its recruiting process, from hire to retire, and manage border activities and digital engagement with citizens.”

CBP uses Salesforce Analytics, Community Cloud and Service Cloud, according to the announcement.

A spokeswoman for Salesforce said that the company is not working with CBP “regarding the separation of families at the border.”

“We are not aware of any Salesforce services being used by CBP for this purpose,” she said.

Salesforce also sells a government-specific suite of products which have the security measures and authorizations required for use by certain agencies. The company works with agencies like the US Department of Defence, and even promotes its software as a way to “support tomorrow’s warfighter today.”

The company is the latest in Silicon Valley to face backlash from employees over its work with government agencies. Microsoft came under fire last week after a blog post from January resurfaced, detailing its work with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Google faced similar internal strife over its ambitions for working with the US military.

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