Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on the key to equality

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took the stage at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing today to talk about diversity and equality. This comes just weeks after Salesforce brought on board Tony Prophet, its first-ever Chief Equality Officer. Equality, Benioff said, has to be something that Salesforce stands for, just like it stands for growth, innovation, new ideas and creating new technology.

“[Equality] is a huge issue for the world,” Benioff said. “This is not just about Salesforce or the tech industry or just industries. We are in a world that we can see inequality everywhere we go. We know a lot about income inequality. We know a lot about racial inequality. We know about inequality with women. We know about LGBTQ inequality.”

He went on to say that inequality is a “multi-faceted beast” and that it’s something we all need to become experts on. Not just leaders like himself, but everyone.

“We’re fighting this beast,” Benioff said. “It’s out there.”

In order to fight the beast of inequality, Benioff said, we need to better understand why we’re seeing more inequality in the world. We also need to recognize that the solution to inequality is equality, he said.

In response to a question about his involvement in demanding that North Carolina repeal its anti-LGBT law, Benioff talked about the importance of seeing ourselves in each other. Even though he identifies as a white, heterosexual man, he said he’s also a lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans.

“I am all of our employees,” Benioff said. “I am the whole rainbow. I have to represent everybody. I also feel like I am the one who is being oppressed and repressed, but I am also the oppressor. I am trying to have a consciousness where I understand how my employees feel.”

He later added, “I think that we all have to see ourselves in each other. We all have to see that at some level we are all the same humanity. That is the key to equality, when we all see ourselves as equal.”