These were some of my favorite quotes about Corporate Social Responsibility from his book Trailblazer
“But my favorite feature of every new Salesforce tower, from our San Francisco headquarters to New York, Indianapolis, London, Tokyo, and others, is the Ohana floor. Normally, the top floor of a big office tower is reserved for top executives—some companies even make it accessible only by a special, private elevator. Well, I completely rejected that practice, and decided to make the top floor in every tower (and its stunning views) a space that is open to all employees to use for meetings, events, and collaboration during the workday, and invite nonprofits and community groups to enjoy it for free on the weekends.”
“The Summit’s goal was to mobilize America’s citizen power in a united effort to solve the problems facing our society—especially those that threaten young people, such as inadequate healthcare, drug abuse, and lack of education needed to compete in the global economy. General Powell wanted us to get involved in what later became a nonprofit called America’s Promise, which works to improve the lives of millions of at-risk youth in the nation. It was a pivotal moment. I couldn’t believe that I was hearing the same message from General Powell, one of the most respected public servants, that I had heard from Amma, the hugging saint, during my visit in India. He offered a pledge, which I took, and it would end up influencing me profoundly: “We pledge to reach out to the most vulnerable members of the American family, our children. They are at risk of growing up unskilled, unlearned or, even worse, unloved….All of us can spare thirty minutes a week or an hour a week. All of us can give an extra dollar. All of us can touch someone who doesn’t look like us, who doesn’t speak like us, who may not dress like us, but, by God, needs us in their lives.”
“That was when I began to understand the value of creating an organizational culture where people know that it’s important to show up. It was wonderful and generous that Oracle was committing to upgrade computer equipment in schools, but giving back wasn’t connected deeply to the culture of the company, so no one felt compelled to exert any extra effort to actually make it happen. I resolved right then—two years before leaving Oracle—that when I eventually had my own company, things would be different.”
“The truth of the matter was that giving back had been baked into every one of our core values from the beginning. After all, the very act of helping others develops and demonstrates trust: It shows employees and customers that we’re motivated by more than money. And the way I wanted to give back—by investing in the workforce of tomorrow—is all about ensuring that we will continue driving the kind of trailblazing innovation that will help our customers succeed not only today, but many years into the future. And finally, our focus on improving access to education for all is far and away the best antidote to inequality.”
“Even back when our nascent company had zero products and just a handful of employees, I knew that if we wanted Salesforce to become a trailblazing company, we would need world-class talent. Which meant we needed to invest in those places where future trailblazers could acquire the education and skills they would need to succeed in the digital, information-economy workforce: our schools and youth institutions.”
“school district in the United States to have a computer science curriculum for every grade. We have more Wi-Fi in more classrooms, more full-time teachers and coaches for math and technology, and smaller class sizes. And the results are measurable. A full 90 percent of San Francisco’s public school students are now proficient in computer science, and we’ve seen a 2,000 percent increase in girls and 6,600 percent increase in underrepresented groups taking computer science. In my mind, that progress, more than how much money or time we donate, is the real measure of success. Encouraged by these results, we’re doing similar work with school districts where we have offices around the globe. In Indianapolis, for example, the location of our second-biggest hub in the United States, we gave $500,000 to the public school district. With about 90 percent of our employees giving their time in the local schools and nonprofits, they spent sixty-five thousand hours volunteering in Indiana last year alone.”
“In the United States alone there are nearly half a million open technology jobs, but our universities produced only sixty-three thousand computer science graduates last year. Meanwhile, our companies can be incredible universities for educating the workforce of the future. Which is why we invest in training employees, as well as interns and apprentices, to acquire new skills, in many cases through specialized instruction and hands-on experience that can’t be obtained at even the most prestigious universities.”
“I often ask my peers in Silicon Valley what would have happened if the top-tier venture capital firms required the companies they invested in to put one percent of their equity into a public charity serving the communities in which they do business. The answer is obvious: Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, and numerous other successful Silicon Valley companies would have created some of the largest public charities in the world, amassing billions of dollars that could fund programs to address the most difficult problems we face. We need to find a way to give back on a massively large scale. The answer is business. Some companies, such as Google, have adopted a variation of our 1-1-1 model, and we’ve worked with other organizations to spread it around the world. We also provided the seed for Pledge1percent.org, which encourages and provides a framework for companies of all sizes and stages to donate 1 percent of their employee time, product, and profit or equity to any charity.”
“This wasn’t the first time I’d gone cold turkey in this way, so I had a sense of how hard the adjustment was about to be. In the first few hours and days, while waiting for a flight or a seat at some seaside restaurant, my muscle memory would be triggered. I’d instinctively reach for my phone and, not finding it, engage in a few seconds of frenzied pocket patting before it would finally dawn on me. Oh, right. I’m unarmed.”
“To squeeze all of this into a day, Rubens was famously adept at multitasking. Yet even knowing this about his esteemed patient, when the physician arrived that day, he could hardly believe what he saw. The maestro stood in front of a canvas, furiously applying paint. To one side sat an assistant who was reading aloud to him from the works of the Roman historian Tacitus while Rubens simultaneously dictated a letter to another assistant. Somehow, in the middle of all that, he managed to greet the physician and engage him in an extensive conversation.”
“However, my personal dedication to give back is non-negotiable: My wife and I have overseen nearly $500 million in personal charitable giving and serve as impact investors in for-profit companies we believe are doing positive things for the planet. And frankly, it’s hard not to want to always be doing even more. I suppose that Lynne and I didn’t have to decide to buy Time magazine in 2018, for example, but we believe it’s an important institution that is having a positive global impact, and ensuring the viability of a free and open press is a cause that is deeply aligned with our values. The same could probably be said about my decision to write this book.”
“But you can’t reimagine the world unless you learn to shield your mind from the everyday noise and chaos. Today, it’s not enough to simply unplug and spend time thinking. We need to make time to think deeply.”
“At times like these, cultivating a beginner’s mind and being open to new ways of thinking isn’t just good for the soul, it’s a survival tactic.”
“It has also been an essential business strategy.”
“If you haven’t taken the time to reconnect with who you are and what you really believe, those instincts will eventually fail you when it matters most.”
“It was time to ask our board of directors to make Keith Block, then Salesforce’s chief operating officer, a co-CEO. Keith had already taken on some of the responsibilities for running the company. But clearly, this wasn’t enough. If I was to maintain my sanity and be the kind of leader Salesforce deserved, I would need Keith to step up and lead the company with me. This move, I knew, would not only take our collaboration to another level, it would accelerate our future growth. I would continue to focus on vision and innovation in our technology, marketing, stakeholder engagement, and culture, while Keith would be responsible for growth strategy, execution, and operations.
But during those unplugged weeks my consciousness shifted and I saw that I needed to put more trust in the people around me. Continuing to carry the full weight of the company on my shoulders wasn’t helping anybody. The new arrangement would allow me to be more mindful, more present, and perhaps less chronically late for meetings. It was a dramatic move, but one that I believe will help Salesforce prosper for many years, while also allowing me to reclaim the attention and focus that my jam-packed schedule had been costing me.”
“allowing qualities such as kindness, empathy, and compassion to emerge. It is, in short, the source of a beginner’s mind.”
“But the next morning, with the clarity of a rested mind, I realized that I hadn’t listened deeply enough to my team. I had been so focused on the numbers that I hadn’t addressed the need to relieve the tension, reduce the noise, and get back to our beginner’s mind. I hadn’t been listening with my heart.”
“And to foster transparency, we publish every V2MOM on our corporate social network Chatter instead of hiding them in a vault. And this open-book approach helps break down departmental divisions and harness the collective energy of the entire company. Anyone can look up any employee’s V2MOM to see how each plans to contribute to our company’s future. We even built an app that allows every employee to track their progress on each item in their V2MOM.”
“I knew I needed to comment publicly, but before I did, I would have to listen deeply. So I set up a call with the authors of the letter.”
“Can we trust Salesforce?” A few minutes later, another author of the letter did the same. “Are we an ethical company?” In twenty years, I had never heard anybody seriously question either of those notions. Hearing this left me deeply shaken. It was one of the first times in my life that I found myself quite literally stunned into silence. It rattled me to my very core.”
“I began to understand that in talking about “integration,” Klaus was urging me to look for the kinds of connections that rarely turn up in your company in-box. What Klaus was really saying is that the only way a company truly thrives is if it fully integrates into society and into the greater effort to build a better world. Every time your company connects to another person, even tangentially, you bear some responsibility for that person’s future well-being. In some ways, this is a burden, but it’s also a golden opportunity. If that one small interaction can make a dent, large or small, in whatever need that person has, or whatever pressing issue is holding that person back, you will have created a lasting impression, which is the first step in building a trusted bond.”
“After a long pause, there was applause, but it was of the nervous rather than robust variety. This teenage climate activist had thrown down the gauntlet to some of the world’s most powerful business leaders and they weren’t entirely sure how to react—not least because they knew deep down that she was right. We can no longer deny the fact that the environment is a key stakeholder for every business—and for everyone who inhabits this planet, for that matter. We cannot sit by passively while climate change is causing our air to become unbreathable, our oceans to heat up and acidify, and our sea levels to rise. Extreme weather events—heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires—are becoming more frequent, and more deadly, with every passing year. If we continue to dump plastic into our rivers and oceans at the current rate, the amount of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of the ocean’s fish by 2050, setting off a catastrophic cascade of reactions across our ecosystem.”
“Allbirds is a shining example of a company committed to treating the environment as a critical stakeholder. This fast-growing shoemaking start-up popularized ethical footwear, using wool that meets stringent standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare and that requires 60 percent less energy to produce than typical synthetic materials used in shoes. And Allbirds works with the nonprofit Soles4Souls to redistribute returned shoes to people in need all around the world.”
“The e-commerce site Etsy recently announced a full transition to carbon-neutral shipping. By committing to purchase carbon offsets to cover 100 percent of the emissions generated by package delivery, this online retailer set a gold standard for its entire industry. Even the global giants have gotten the message. More than two hundred fifty companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Unilever, have committed to making all plastic packaging either reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.”
We’re not only instilling these values into our culture, we’re also building them into our infrastructure—literally. Salesforce Tower in San Francisco features the largest onsite water recycling system in a commercial high-rise building in the United States, saving millions of gallons of water every year. For us, this is crucial, given the location of our headquarters in California, a region that is chronically afflicted by drought.
That spring, four thousand Google employees had written an open letter to their CEO, Sundar Pichai, to protest the company’s work with a Pentagon program using artificial intelligence on the battlefield. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” the letter stated. Two months later, Google announced that it would not renew its military contract for 2019.
“When the Trump administration announced a zero-tolerance policy on immigration and the press began reporting on family separations, I was heartsick. It was unimaginable that families who were coming to America for a better life would be subjected to this treatment. As I thought about my great-grandfather Isaac Benioff, who came to the United States as a refugee, I promptly made donations to nonprofit groups helping families at the border. In the United States, Americans come from many backgrounds and countries—we are truly a melting pot. Every year some of the world’s best and brightest students attend our colleges and universities, and then we send them back to their home countries after they graduate. Instead, we should staple a green card to every diploma and keep them here. Our long-term competitive differentiation strategy for the United States is summed up in one word: immigrants. Ultimately, it’s not AI, bioengineering, or any other technology that will differentiate or make a country competitive. It’s the people.”
“And they weren’t shy about voicing these concerns. Keith and Dave Rey, our head of public-sector business, and other sales executives were fielding calls from some customers wanting to know who would decide if their products were being used for good or for harm. What are the criteria, and who defines the parameters? Does every customer need to be perceived as totally aligned with Salesforce’s values? Can we count on you that you aren’t going to make a decision to pull your software and leave us in the lurch? This quickly became an entirely separate trust issue that our team needed to confront, and it also complicated the situation by roping in yet another of our core values: customer success.”
“I certainly didn’t enjoy seeing these pictures on TV, or the pounding I took on social media. If previous fights hadn’t thickened my skin, I’m not sure how I would have weathered this one. In my period of contemplation, I tried to focus on the truths I knew: that it didn’t matter whether or not Salesforce was being unfairly portrayed in this case; what mattered was our responsibility to make sure our ethical use guidelines were clearly articulated going forward.”
“On July 26, I posted a statement to employees on Chatter announcing that our Office of Equality would have a new unit, called the Office of Ethical and Humane Use. It would work hand-in-hand with our Office of Ethics and Integrity, which focuses on corporate governance. We would appoint a Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer whose newly created team would work with all of our stakeholders, as well as industry groups, thought leaders, and experts, to create, promote, and implement industry standards, guidelines, and living frameworks around the ethical use of technology. Our first ever Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer, Paula Goldman, describes her mission as developing a strategic framework for our technology that not only drives the success of our customers, but also drives positive social change and benefits humanity.”
“But mostly, it was because all our fates are intermingled. What’s good for the homeless is what’s good for my company, my community”
“The statistics bear this out. In a corporate social responsibility survey of online shoppers across sixty countries, conducted by Nielsen, 66 percent said they were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to driving positive social and environmental impact. The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that millennials believe business success should be measured by more than profits, citing the creation of innovative ideas, products, and services; positive impact on the environment and society; job creation, career development, and improving people’s lives; and promotion of inclusion and diversity in the workplace as the top priorities. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 75 percent of consumers say they won’t buy from unethical companies, and 86 percent say they’re more loyal to ethical companies.”
“In Fortune’s CEO Initiative 2019 survey of eleven hundred executives, managers, and employees, 87 percent agreed that the need for moral leadership in business is greater than ever. Yet only 7 percent of employees surveyed said their leaders often or always exhibited the behaviors of moral leadership. The disconnect between beliefs and action is still enormous, and there will be consequences for business whose leadership doesn’t live by values like trust and equality. In this age of instantaneous digital feedback, companies and their leaders simply can no longer turn a blind eye to the issues that matter to their employees, their customers, and the communities in which they do business.”
“This insight inspired Lynne and me to fund the $30 million UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, aimed at building reliable and credible science-based research to help policymakers, community leaders, and the public understand how people become homeless and identify solutions to alleviate the crisis. The world badly needs a North Star for truth in homelessness. Data is crucial for ensuring that we invest in programs that can make a real difference in addressing homelessness and housing. For example, data shows that providing permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless adults creates long-term housing stability in over 85 percent of the people housed and often does so with an overall reduction in government expenditure. Dr. Margot Kushel, the director of the initiative, is leading the research team that studies factors such as poverty, domestic violence, age, family size, and unemployment office visits, to design the most effective ways to prevent and end homelessness. By leaning on medical science, emerging research, and data, my hope is that we’ll no longer have to argue about what works best. Instead of letting our gut instinct, assumptions, and the partial truths fed to us by snake-oil salesmen and politicians inform our position, we’ll simply let the science be our guide. Because once we stop fighting one another and start working together, change can happen. It’s our civic duty and our corporate responsibility.”
Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
Davidson is an avid networker, personal growth- life and business coach.
He loves spreading the love and regularly helps people create and design the life they want for themselves.