Women in Tech, Diversity and Equality, and the Salesforce Ohana

The Salesforce developers and admins at Forcelandia’s “Women in Tech Breakfast” and at Midwest Dreamin’ are exemplars of a powerful paradigm shift in tech – an increase in inclusion and diversity that benefits technologists and their organizations.

Further, the significant number of men attending the Forcelandia “Women In Tech Breakfast” (see the image below) shows that support for women as technologists and peers is tangible in the Salesforce Ohana – something not always true in other corners of tech. Read on to learn more about Salesforce’s drive towards both diversity and equality, and what this looks like in practice in the Salesforce Ohana.

One facet driving Salesforce’s success: a diverse, supportive Ohana

Unlike the recent “Google Internal Memo” situation, where some claimed (and tweeted, and continue to opine) that diversity can weaken technical organizations and aren’t good for business, the significant percentage of men participating in the Salesforce “Women In Tech Breakfast” reflected a different perspective. By being present to listen to and learn with women, it’s clear that women in tech, and diverse viewpoints, are valued within the Salesforce Ohana. [If you’re not familiar with the recent controversy and Google memo mentioned above, this article will help get you up to speed while providing some context.]

The Salesforce “Women In Tech Breakfast” at Forcelandia: diversity for the win

When Nadim Ramzi (follow @nadimDRZ) spoke at the “Women in Tech Breakfast” about closing the gender gap in tech in Latin America, the mix of both men and women attending made it clear she was speaking to a key value for the Salesforce Ohana. Although diversity and equality are Ohana values, they also should be key business values.

Why? There’s concrete evidence that diverse tech firms outperform their peers. Morgan Stanley reported that “highly gender-diverse tech companies returned on average 5.4% more on an annual basis than the average yearly returns of their peers with less gender diversity.” Many other sources report similar findings.

In “What is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance,” the authors cite sources ranging from McKinsey and Lehman Brothers to academia. Credit-Suisse reports, “Gender-diverse management teams showed superior return on equity, debt/equity ratios, price/equity ratios, and average growth.” And Cedric Herring’s widely-cited research reports that “racial diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits. Gender diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits.”

It makes sense, then, that Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s Chief Executive Office, believes Salesforce is growing not in spite of its focus on diversity, but because of it.

“Any form of discrimination not only denies individuals their inherent dignity; it hurts companies and communities — it restricts growth — by not drawing on the incredible talents of all our people. We are stronger and more prosperous when women receive equal pay for equal work and when all people are treated equally, regardless of religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

The Salesforce Ohana doesn’t stop at diversity, it strives towards equality

When it comes to valuing the Ohana, Benioff is doubling down. By bringing Tony Prophet on as Chief Equality Officer, Salesforce goes beyond diversity towards a pursuit of equality in the workplace.

What’s the difference between diversity and equality? Prophet said in one recent interview,

“Equality goes beyond [diversity]. Equality asks the questions, ‘Are you standing for my rights when I step outside my workforce? Are you fighting for equality for me?’ … That added dimension goes beyond pure diversity and inclusion internally and goes to why we came up with the notion of this being an equality role…”

Diversity, equality, and my perspective

As a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Spanning, part of my role is to stay connected within the Salesforce Ohana, and to connect what the Ohana is about to what Spanning provides. From my perspective, the work done by Salesforce admins and developers is part and parcel of their authentic selves; as we see in Ohana groups such as the Women’s Network and BOLDforce, Salesforce provides both a technology platform, and a platform for paradigm shift and personal growth.

How have these issues shown up in your life? How has the Salesforce Ohana helped? I welcome your comments (here, or via Twitter – you can find me at @LoriAusTex) and your thoughts on what you’ve seen and experienced in your work within the Salesforce Ohana.

See you at Dreamforce 17!

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