Why Canada's handsome, feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hanging out with tech billionaire Marc Benioff

SalesforceSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff (left) with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hanging with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in San Francisco on Thursday.
  • Salesforce has committed to spend $US2 billion in Canada over the next few years, creating thousands of jobs.
  • But the two are also gathering other business people together to discuss a more political agenda.

Fresh from his stirring speech on women’s rights at the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is touring the US.

On Thursday, his trip took him to San Francisco to meet with various tech industry bigwigs, including SalesforceCEO Marc Benioff at the company’s new headquarters.

The overt reason for the meeting was to celebrate Salesforce’s commitment to invest $US2 billion in Canada over the next five years, building out its data centres and adding to its workforce there. Salesforce currently employs 1,300 people in Canada. While the company didn’t publicly commit to a specific number of new jobs, it quoted market research that calculated that its expansion in the country will lead to 28,000 new jobs and $US17 billion in new revenue in Canada by 2022, when calculating all things like contracts with Salesforce partners and tech bought by Salesforce customers.

But the underlying reason for the visit is a bit more subtle. Benioff is hosting a roundtable with Trudeau and other business leaders to discuss a topic that he has been vocally championing: the importance of diversity and equality, the company said in a statement.

A couple of years ago, Benioff famously went to bat against several state laws that would allow business to refuse service to people based on sexual orientation under the umbrella of religious freedom. That included a showdown in Indiana over such a law, back when Vice President Mike Pence was that state’s governor.

And Benioff has been leading a charge on equal pay for women, ensuring that Salesforce pays women the same as men and advocating other companies discuss the situation and make similar vows.

Trudeau is also known for being outspoken on women’s rights. His speech at the World Economic Forum last month discussed new Canadian legislation that mandated equal pay for women and advocated for “equal treatment” of women in the workplace.

Trudeau also penned an essay for Marie Claire magazine called “Why I’m Raising My Kids to Be Feminists.” In it, he wrote,”I want my sons to escape the pressure to be a particular kind of masculine that is so damaging to men and to the people around them.”

So the meeting is clearly a combination of business commitments and politics, with Benioff tweeting,

“I am thrilled to welcome Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Salesforce & San Francisco on Thursday! Thank you for your fight for the equality every human being. Thank you for fighting the preservation of our global environment and the oceans. And Thank you for Neil Young.”

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