Marc Benioff says that before Salesforce buys a startup, he does 'due diligence' on a company's culture and how it pays employees

Justin Sullivan / GettySalesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff
  • At the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Thursday, Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff addressed sexual harassment and the wage gap in Silicon Valley.
  • Benioff said he now looks at a company’s culture and how it pays employees when he’s considering an acquisition for Salesforce.
  • Benioff spoke about the infamous Google Walkout, and called it an “eye-opening” example of the importance of corporate culture.
  • “We have CEOs who are not paying attention to their culture and allowed toxic cultures to emerge,” Benioff said.

Just five years ago, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says that when it comes to acquisitions, it was the technology and product that mattered most.

Now, he says, he’s made a complete turnaround: The billionaire tech exec says that when Salesforce wants to buy a company, he first does his “due diligence” in looking at the company’s culture, how fairly and equitably it pays employees, and its ratings on popular employer review site Glassdoor.

Said Benioff onstage Thursday at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference:

“We bought 50 companies in the last decade or more. We now have to look at pay scales with due diligence … Five years ago, I didn’t look at pay scales, at culture, at Glassdoor ratings. When you buy a company, you don’t just buy the technology. You buy the culture.”

Benioff says that in this day and age, company culture is “more important than ever,” and Salesforce is doubling down. He believes that culture, equal pay for women, and how a company handles sexual harassment are all related, and says that employees expect CEOs to have clear positions in those areas.

Seeing Google employees walk out to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct cases last November was “eye-opening for a lot of people,” Benioff said. He added that Silicon Valley has already seen several executives get taken down for committing sexual harassment, or for not doing enough to fight it.

“We have CEOs who are not paying attention to their culture and allowed toxic cultures to emerge,” Benioff said.

Salesforce has spent $US8.7 million on pay raises for women after a group of Salesforce employees, including Chief People Officer Cindy Robbins and executive vice president Leyla Seka, investigated the wage gap at the company. Benioff has also previously spoken about how he had to fire an executive for crossing a line in sexual harassment.


Read more:


Salesforce has spent $US6 million on pay raises for women – and fired an executive

“You can’t just be a domain expert in financial services, software, AI,” Benioff said. “You’ve got to know your stuff when it comes to handling your culture at your company.”

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