Why equality matters in the workforce
As the world prepares for the next great technological leap forward since the industrial revolution — through AI, machine learning and the internet of things — employers need to ask who’s going to be left behind in that transformation. According to Tony Prophet, Salesforce’s Chief Equality Officer who recently spoke at the Great Place to Work for All conference in San Francisco, employers must think if these innovations will it make the world more equal or less equal.
One of the four core values at Salesforce is equality, said Prophet. Not only is it important externally, but recognizing it as part of your company’s foundation impacts your decisions, and it starts at the top.
“The people most at risk, you can see it happening over the last decade, are often young women, girls, people of color,” he said. “We naturally want to create opportunities for everyone.”
Prophet noted that the company views itself as having a higher purpose to drive toward an age of company equality. Alos, the CEO and senior executives must set the tone where equality can be effective, and it’s a philosophy that has been a governing value from the beginning.
And as the company moves forward, Salesforce rests on four pillars of equality:
· Equal opportunity — inclusion for all.
· Equal rights — equality for every human being.
· Equal pay — equal pay for equal work.
· Equal education — equal access to quality education.
“None of us are going to be equal until all of us are equal,” Prophet said. And in creating this culture, the company created employee-led and employee-organized groups centered around common life experiences or backgrounds, and their allies.
Equality is an increasing value as discrepancies materialize through globalization, added Michael Rogers, CEO of iFocus: Human Capital Solutions, a consulting firm.
He points to vocational scholars, such as Boston College Lynch School of Education’s David Blustein, who note that access to education, fair consideration for work and the ability to make career decisions are not the same for all.
“Organizations that recognize and address these disparities, through strong organizational culture, position themselves for success now and in the future,” Rogers said.
Back at Salesforce, Prophet noted the employers as implemented a number of groups, called Ohana Groups – built around the Hawaiian concept of Ohana, which means family. These groups include Outforce for the LGBTQ community, Vetforce for the veteran community and BOLDforce to support the black community.
“Be an ally,” he urged. “You can be someone’s ally because you’re there to support your family. One of the things we’ve done is be more systematic in being an ally, it doesn’t mean you agree on every issue.”
Prophet also believes the one of the biggest reasons Salesforce has remained on the list of great places to work is because of the culture it’s created.
Nobody wants to work where they feel like they have to leave some fraction of their identity at the door for fear of retaliation, he said. “But instead [they want to be] working at a company where everyone is seen, everyone feels valued and everyone is heard.”