By Rose Ors
In collaboration with Amelia Miazad, Founding Director & Senior Research Fellow, Business in Society Institute, Berkeley Law
Rose Ors: As President of Legal and Corporate Affairs you lead a number of key teams at Salesforce—legal, compliance, internal audit, security, and government affairs. Is sustainability included?
Amy Weaver: No, but my teams work closely together on issues from GDPR to equality. This joint effort has been critical to our work on issues at the very core of sustainability— reducing our carbon footprint, advocating for Equal Pay and individual privacy rights. Working as a team has also given us a very strong voice within Salesforce and within the community at large.
Rose Ors: Salesforce’s support of Proposition C in San Francisco helped it pass. The homelessness tax is estimated to cost Salesforce an additional $10 million a year in taxes. What drove the company’s decision to back it?
Amy Weaver: The action was guided, again, by our four core values. These values led the company to incorporate philanthropy and social impact into our business model. We championed Prop C because we have always believed that companies have a responsibility to a broad group of stakeholders. Shareholders, of course. But also to their employees, customers, partners, and community.
Rose Ors: Does Salesforce advocacy mirror the Business Roundtable’s recently adopted “purpose of the corporation.”
Amy Weaver: Salesforce has always operated under that ethos and we have the track record to support our belief that leading through values is good for business. We have never found a conflict between our responsibility to shareholders and our responsibility to all stakeholders. Indeed, we have always found a stakeholder approach to corporate governance to be in the best interest of our shareholders.
On the very day Salesforce was established, our founders committed to a concept called “one-one-one.” Meaning we were going to give one percent of our employees’ time, one percent of our equity, and one percent of our product to charitable causes. Fast-forward to today and our commitment has never wavered. So, it was a natural next step for us to move from philanthropy to advocacy.
Rose Ors: Is this broader approach more critical now?
Amy Weaver: Absolutely. Consumers are increasingly supporting or boycotting a brand based on the company’s position on social issues. Employees—especially millennials— seek out employment more and more at companies that match their values.
Rose Ors: Salesforce has been very vocal about the need for privacy regulation at the Federal level. How is Salesforce participating in this effort?
Amy Weaver: Simply put, we need a Federal privacy law. Privacy protection should not depend on your zip code. I strongly believe that consumers and businesses will be best served by a unifying privacy framework that isn’t fragmented by geography or by industry sector. That is why we have spent the past year engaging actively with policymakers in Washington to advocate for bipartisan privacy legislation.
Rose Ors: What should the Federal policy law cover?
Amy Weaver: Any privacy law should comport with fundamental principles of transparency, control, and accountability. Transparency is important because consumers of technology should know what’s happening to their data. Control is important because consumers need to decide how their data is used. Accountability is important because companies need to be held responsible for doing what they say they are going to do to protect an individual’s privacy.
Rose Ors: Is Salesforce’s position in this area also based on its core values?
Amy Weaver: Absolutely. Marc Benioff was one of the first CEOs in the U.S. to come out and say we need privacy protection for our citizens. This was a natural move for him and the company since trust has been our number one value for 20 years. Trust among consumers, businesses, and governments is the foundation of prosperity and innovation in a digital economy. In our view, protecting privacy will enable innovation and ultimately be a competitive advantage.
Rose Ors: What sustainability issues do you think pose the greatest challenges for the technology sector in the next five years?
Amy Weaver: We need to redefine “sustainability”. If you had asked me 12 months ago what sustainability meant, I would have only talked about environmental protection. Of course, climate change and other environmental protection issues will always be a necessary component of sustainability. But sustainability should be viewed more broadly. At Salesforce, we are aligned with all 17 of the sustainable development goals championed by the United Nations. These goals include quality education for all, zero hunger, no poverty, racial and gender equality, decent work, and workforce development. In our company’s view, taking this broader approach is no longer just a nice-to-do, but a business and societal imperative.
Rose Ors: How important is it for technology companies to look at workforce development as a sustainability goal?
Amy Weaver: It is crucial. Technology has made our lives easier; it has connected us; it has expanded our world. But t technology may well replace literally millions of jobs over the next five to ten years. The tech industry has to find a way to transition workers displaced by technology. Workforce development is an area that I am very focused on at Salesforce.
Rose Ors: What are some of the things the company is doing on this front?
Amy Weaver: We want to empower a diverse and qualified workforce with the skills needed for the 21st century. Our efforts include a number of training and job placement initiatives. One initiative, Trailhead, is a free online learning center that anyone, anywhere can sign-up for. It offers business and technology courses, along with along with games, challenges, and other activities that develop your technology chops and are fun. Over 1.8 million people have taken Trailhead courses, some of whom have developed in-demand tech skills such as AI and mobile app development. Then we have more targeted training initiatives, each addressing a different sector of our community. Salesforce Military offers job training and a career accelerator for military service members, veterans, and their spouses. And it offers job opportunities within the Salesforce ecosystem. Next is Futureforce. This is Salesforce’s university recruiting and in-house internship program. It offers next-generation talent internships at Salesforce working on real projects that impact our business. We have also partnered with Deloitte on an initiative called the Pathfinder Training Program. The program is a four-month joint workforce training program that prepares participants for full-time jobs as certified Salesforce administrators and developers. Participants receive technical skills training from Salesforce and general business training from Deloitte. Lastly, through the Salesforce Foundation and Salesforce.org, we have given more than $240 million in grants to support nonprofits devoted to education and workforce development. In addition to monetary assistance, employees at Salesforce have volunteered nearly 3.5 million hours with these organizations.
Rose Ors: I’d like to end with a question on climate change—an issue many view as an existential threat. How is Salesforce addressing climate change?
Amy Weaver: We believe climate change is a human issue—it impacts every individual, company, city, and nation. Moreover, its effects weigh the heaviest on the world’s most vulnerable communities, amplifying global inequality. So, it is a vitally important issue for us to help solve. Some of our sustainable accomplishments include achieving Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, delivering a carbon neutral cloud for all customers and sourcing 100% renewable energy for our three office buildings in San Francisco. We are also on track to reach 100% renewable energy usage by 2022. I would like to end by noting the importance of our employee involvement in reaching these milestones. There are over 9,000 employees from 40 offices across the globe whose work has helped scale our sustainability goals in each of our offices and within their communities.
Rose Ors: It takes a village.
Amy Weaver: It does take a village.
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