Recent events, including the murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have galvanized the movement for racial justice and equity. the number one customer relationship manager (CRM) in the world, it is important that Salesforce also leads in its diversity, equity and inclusion practices. Increased diversity in the workplace is linked to increased productivity, innovation and performance. Although Salesforce hired its first Chief Equality Officer in 2016 and began releasing quarterly equality reports, the company’s diversity numbers barely improved. The percentage of Hispanic and Black employees at Salesforce merely inched up from 4% Hispanic and 2% Black in 2015 to 5.1% Hispanic and 4.3% Black in 2021.
Recent resignations from two Black women in prominent positions at Salesforce indicate a lack of progress regarding the company’s diversity and racial equity.
The first woman from Salesforce to publicly resign, a senior manager of research in business technology, asserted that there is a “big gap from how Salesforce portrays itself and the lived experience” of working for the company. She claimed she was “manipulated, bullied [and] neglected” while working within Salesforce’s “toxic environment”. Later that month, a manager of design research and innovation resigned, alleging that Salesforce lacks accountability regarding diversity, equity and inclusion and the company’s “disingenuous marketing around equality” does not align with internal practices. She further stated that Salesforce lacks a proactive action plan to prevent underrepresented minorities from suffering “unchecked harm and trauma”. Salesforce consistently fails to implement a proactive action plan to prevent harm to its Black, Indigenous, People of Color (“BIPOC”), and instead simply refers employees who have suffered harm to “Warmline,” its employee advocacy program “to have confidential conversations.”
Even if Salesforce achieves its purported goal of having 50% of its U.S. workforce consisting of underrepresented groups by 2023, certain groups would likely remain underrepresented. Salesforce bundles “Women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Multiracial, LGBTQ+ employees, People with Disabilities, and Veterans” together to form the company’s definition of “underrepresented groups.” Combining all of those employees’ unique identities into one intersectional category allows Salesforce to seemingly reach its goal while still leaving particular groups underrepresented. On top of that, Salesforce’s goal of “doubling” its “representation of Black leaders” by 2023 would be a misleading achievement considering that only 1.5% of the company’s total leadership roles were comprised of Black employees in 2020.
You can find Salesforce’s most recent Equal Employment Opportunity Report here, which shows the vast disparity in representation amongst its employees.
Following controversies, Facebook and Starbucks conducted civil rights and equity audits that assisted each company to identify, prioritize, and implement improvements. These efforts provide an emerging model for such audits, typically conducted by a third party, in collaboration with experts in civil rights, and input from an array of stakeholders.
Tulipshare’s approach to improving diversity and inclusion within Salesforce is the most productive first step that we can take as activist investors – to request an independent third-party audit with input from civil rights organizations and communities wherein Salesforce operates. This type of report will provide greater transparency into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics at Salesforce and how they can be improved.
Salesforce's next AGM is on June 8, 2023 at 11am Pacific Time (7pm GMT). Check out Salesforce's 2023 proxy statement.
The record date is April 14, 2023.
Voting at the AGM
In 2022 our proposal for the company to conduct a racial equity audit received a 33.8% backing - not bad for our first time on the scene! It also means we gained enough support to file again next year, which we intend to do. In 2023, we withdrew our proposal, following a successful withdrawal agreement singed by Tulipshare and Salesforce. You can learn more about the withdrawal agreement from the campaign updates below.
What is shareholder activism?
Shareholder activism is when shareholders use their influence as owners of a company to effectuate change within the organisation.
What is Tulipshare?
Tulipshare is an sustainable investment fund and shareholder advocacy group on a mission to help investors push for stronger environmental and social commitments, using corporate governance to create a positive impact and ensure the companies we invest our money in are being responsibly managed by accountable leadership.
How does Tulipshare improve sustainability through investing?
Tulipshare addresses issues pertaining to climate change, human rights, racial and gender equity, political spending and operational transparency within some of America’s biggest publicly traded companies - issues that if left unaddressed could expose a company and its investors to significant legal, reputational and financial risks.