WOOL: There's a lot of work to be done in different areas, from equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunity to fair representation. What is your approach to inclusion and equality?
KAREN S. CARTER You said it - equal opportunity. That means people have a fair chance to prove themselves, to prove that they can deliver for the company and their colleagues and are compensated and recognized accordingly. That's the standard. Of course, bringing that to life in every corner of a global company like the Dow, with 37,000 people, is not easy. We believe in our people and that they can deliver, so we must deliver the right systems for them.
TONY PROPHET We believe in the equal value of every human being. That is our north star. As part of this we recognize our responsibility to ensure that our company reflects the diverse communities we serve, so that every person at Salesforce feels a sense of belonging - that they are seen, valued, and heard. We do this by building and training our employees on our inclusive practices, in the way we lead, promote, hire, and communicate. We also share representation with our top leaders, build a community of allies, and empower our employee resource groups to drive Equality from the front lines. We are fortunate to be at a company where our leaders and founders are truly Equality champions. Before I even worked at Salesforce, I admired our co-CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff for his advocacy and courage in speaking up for marginalized communities. As he says, "the business of business is to make the world a better place."
"Everyone has a role to play on the path to Equality. Men can mentor, sponsor, advocate, and champion their women leaders, peers, or employees. We can all be allies to one another and help drive Gender Equality forward." - Tony Prophet
WOOL: "Pay gaps are easy to fix if companies have the commitment". In reality though, it is not as simple as writing a cheque. What must companies do to monitor and fix inequities in pay, and the long-term ramifications of the pay gap on wealth accumulation for under-represented minorities, their families and societies at large?
KC Data speaks at Dow. We are a science and technology company. I talk about data because Dow - and any company - needs data to tell the story of pay equity or lack thereof. And systems need to be in place, tracked regularly, to demonstrate that gaps are closing - and if not - flagged for investigation.
TP We know that pay inequities are real. The World Economic Forum estimates it could take over 200 years for companies to reach pay parity. At Salesforce, we are working hard to close the pay gap and now for the last three years have audited the pay of every employee worldwide for equity based on gender. As a result, we’ve invested $10+ million. But we are also looking at some of the systemic reasons that drive these gaps; last year we adopted the practice to eliminate the question of past pay salary - an important step, as we know this perpetuates the gap. We recognize that there is more work to be done on this front and we will continue to evaluate our practices, educate, and learn on this path.
WOOL: Corporate America remains notoriously, stubbornly, white - and male. Currently there are no African-American women running Fortune 500 companies. What can, and should, corporate America be doing to make sure that more and more people of color are currently in the pipeline, and have a chance to succeed on their own terms?
KC When she was asked why there weren't more black women CEOs, Ursula Burns, outgoing CEO of Xerox told Fortune: "Unless you're bringing people in from Mars, it's going to be a while." Black women make up less than 2 percent of middle managers in the Fortune 500. The pipeline is sparse. Companies need to pay serious attention and be intentional in hiring, mentoring, sponsoring and developing. But change needs to begin even earlier, before black women enter the workplace. We must prepare young women by building their business acumen and teaching them the skills they need to be successful. And we need to come at it from many angles:
- Recruiting at universities with talented minority students.
- Building your reputation as a company that offers all people equal opportunity to advance.
- Internally setting up systems where people can tap into networks for professional growth such as employee resource groups (ERGs). Dow's 10 ERGs are powerful forums for networking - examples are the Global African Affinity Network and Women's Innovation Network. They provide local and global structures for building networks and addressing issues of empowerment, career advancement and mentorship.
- And people need to see themselves reflected in company leadership so that they can envision themselves as leaders one day.
TP When you look at the founders of these industries, particularly ours, many were not diverse. They most likely came out of an education system that had let down young women and people of color. This homogeneous starting point was compounded by network effects (founders hired who they knew) - further amplified by pattern matching, then institutionalized by unconscious bias.
We know there is no acceptable excuse at this point and that the time for explanation versus action has long since passed. There is luminary talent all around us and it is our responsibility now to make sure we are building access into our industries. At Salesforce:
- We are focused on empowering the diverse workforce of the future through our investment in education.
- We continue this through our partnerships with organizations such as Black Girls Code, Coder Dojo, and Girls Who Code.
- We work with organizations like Year Up, College Track and Genysys Works to skill-up the current workforce and create non-traditional pathways into technology careers.
- Finally, our Employee Resource Groups help us broaden our networks and connect with talent across the diverse communities we serve.
WOOL: While the LGBTQ community has made some strides over the recent decades, the transgender community continues to face discrimination in employment, health, housing - you name it. They are at risk of increased bullying or mistreatment. How are you making the workplace safer and more inclusive for them?
KC By putting action behind our words and building trust within this community. For instance, Dow today is one of the very few companies that offers coverage for transgender surgery and treatment. For more than a decade we have advocated openly about transgender issues. In 2008, Dow provided testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, focusing on Transgender policies in the workplace. We continue to speak out on these issues.
TP Transgender rights issues are human rights issues. We are committed to building communities both within our walls and beyond to create equality for this community. We not only provide benefits tailored to the needs of transgender employees, but we also create an inclusive environment to ensure all employees can come to work as their authentic selves. Some ways we do this include:
- Employee resource groups
- Gender pronoun badges
- Gender neutral bathrooms
- Voluntary self-identification featuring new options for U.S. employees to specify sexual orientation, gender identity and gender pronouns.
- We have been a vocal advocate for legislation and regulation that acknowledges and protects the rights of the transgender community.
WOOL: Initiatives like the Time's Up campaign have been formed to ensure that change actually happens. But will it? How will we know if/when it has?
KC We'll know when we do interviews like this and the question no longer comes up! Your questions, tough and insightful, are a great barometer of the equality issues we're facing today, especially for people of color, women and the LGBTQ community. When you no longer think this question is worth the airtime, we know we can put this subject to rest.
"I am an ally for all dimensions of diversity. It is not only part of my job, it is part of my life mission. The work of equality is a marathon, not a sprint." - Karen Carter
WOOL: You are leaders at the forefront of change. What's your take on activism in the age of social media? A good tool for creating sustained pressure for change?
KC Social media is only as effective as the thought and will behind it. It can be a democratizing force that gives voice to diverse groups. By giving voice, we inform and remind people that there are choices, that there are smart impassioned people at the forefront of issues and that everyone can contribute. Social media can be used effectively by large organizations, but also by small groups of people with a vision, a keyboard, Wi-Fi - and a commitment to asking why.
"The fight for equality is about investing in human rights. I'm a proud ally and encourage others to join me in this journey. At Salesforce we've codified this into four simple actions - ask about others' journey, listen with empathy, show up for others, and speak up to amplify the voices and needs of those around you." - Tony Prophet
WOOL: Brands have an enormous opportunity - to not just sell products - but to spark conversations. What do consumers expect today and what is the role that companies can play in changing behaviors and driving action?
KC For me, it's about engagement, listening and doing our part to drive change through our example. Even though Dow is a B2B company, we are also attuned to the big issues that consumers care about. Through social media and forums, we are sparking the conversation around big issues like ocean waste, water use, energy efficiency and climate change - challenges we are trying to address through science solutions. People crave knowledge. They crave action. They want to influence both through their voiced opinions and purchasing power.
TP At Salesforce, we believe that businesses are powerful platforms for social change. In a recent report, we surveyed over 1,500 consumers on their changing expectations and behaviors as it relates to business and societal impact. We found that 90% of consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to improve the state of the world. People want to work for and buy from companies that lead with a greater purpose and consider their impact on the communities around them. We have a responsibility to use our platforms to elevate the voices of others, empower the diverse workforce of the future, and stand up for the equal value of every human life.