In her role at Salesforce, Wendy leads marketing in the region; helping businesses grow and connect with their customers, partners, and employees. As a passionate advocate for Equality, she is also President of the Salesforce Asia Women’s Network; with a charter to empower, invest, and amplify the progress of women, creating gender-equality allies and taking action on equality.
This year we mark International Women’s Day on March 8. Established in 1911, the purpose of this day is to take the time to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women everywhere. Even as women have blazed new trails, women still face unequal opportunities in every aspect of professional and public life. Since gender inequality still exists, International Women’s Day raises awareness about how far we need to go.
Pre-COVID, the World Economic Forum estimated, at the current rate of progress, it would take 257 years to close the gender gap. Initial evidence shows the pandemic has stymied this already slow progress and has disproportionately impacted women globally. But even before the pandemic, Salesforce’s commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 5: Gender Equality, ensured our ongoing support of equity and inclusion initiatives. For instance, Tableau Foundation joined the Equal Measures 2030 Partnership Council last year to support women data journalists and increase opportunities for women and girls.
While women represent 46.9% of the global labour force, only 29% hold managerial positions. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, pay equity in the workplace won’t reach gender parity until 2059. It is clear work needs to be done. To start, we can acknowledge interactions with colleagues and in our community can impact others and our efforts can move the needle.
Here are ways you can support gender equality in tech:
1. Create and support gender equality programs in the workplace
The first step in driving gender equality is to make time and room for authentic conversations on women’s issues.
Advocate for holding internal meetings, like town halls, to create safe spaces to educate allies, share personal experiences, and provide resources. Use the outcomes of these meetings to mobilise and shift company culture. At our annual gender equality event, the Trailblazing Women Summit, we invite speakers from outside our company to elevate conversations around gender equality in tech, business, media, politics, and other industries.
In Asia, we’re holding internal activities this week to support focus areas of inclusion, equality, and philanthropy. Our employees will host 150 one-on-one mentoring sessions with young people throughout the region. They will also participate in I am Remarkable sessions to celebrate achievements in the workplace and learn through discussion. We’ll come together in an Inspiration Circle to get energised for the year ahead. We’re also proud to host a fireside chat with President of Daughters of Tomorrow, Kim Underhill. We’ll explore how it helps women from the low-income community access sustainable livelihood opportunities.
Our internal employee resource group, Salesforce Women’s Network (SWN), produced these events to empower and inspire employees to lead without limitation.
2. Offer inclusive benefits to all employees
As a company, reevaluate your benefits package to promote gender equality. Salesforce offers benefits to support individuals and families no matter where they are in their life. We offer paid parental leave for all parents, childcare subsidies, surrogacy and fertility benefits, paid family sick time, and flexible time off. During the past year, additional support benefits to parents included enhanced family benefits such as child education or childcare at home and caregiver support for elderly or infirmed relatives.
Beyond generous inclusive benefits, we encourage employees to take their work-life balance seriously. For example, when tennis star Serena Williams and husband Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian welcomed their first child together, Ohanian took 16 weeks of paternity leave.
3. Perform a company-wide equal pay audit
Pay parity is one of the most obvious ways inequality shows up in the workplace between men and women. To address and understand compensation gaps, conduct a comprehensive equal pay audit. This ensures a readjustment so all employees are paid equally for equal work, regardless of gender.
Salesforce conducts an annual pay audit to ensure equal pay with our current employees. Since our first equal pay audit, we have invested more than US$12 million to address any unexplained compensation inequities between men and women.
4. Consider intersectionality in all equity decisions
Intersectionality takes into account the whole person as an individual when experiencing multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism and sexism) and how this overlapping reality can’t be separated out. It is particularly prominent in experiences of marginalised individuals or groups.
Women are often underrepresented in the business world, but the additional challenges for intersectional women can be different. For people who don’t face these intersectional challenges, unconscious bias training can assist in understanding and navigating complexities around equality.
If you have programs and resources around gender equality, consider ways to highlight specific intersections and how they may affect underrepresented groups. For example, at Salesforce, we have 12 employee resources groups. We encourage groups like Salesforce Women’s Network (SWN) and Outforce (LGBTQIA and allies) to work together and elevate the discussions around the nuances found at this intersection.
5. Be an ally
An ally is someone who advances the rights of, supports, and advocates for a community they may not identify as belonging to. At Salesforce, we say allies ask, listen, show up, and speak up for one another. We also recognise allyship is a journey. We know that some may be at the very start — curious — they want to learn more. Others may be further along the journey and are — courageous – ready to use their voice or platform to speak up.
We strive to create a workplace that reflects the diverse communities around us and where everyone feels seen, heard, valued, and empowered to succeed. We have created the SWN Inclusive Allies program to help raise awareness about gender equality through a specific ASEAN regional lens and to offer guidance to colleagues who want to support equality through allyship. The program will give everyone an opportunity to share a common language, tools, and actions to practice being a stronger ally. It consists of a series of workshops and materials where our employees can learn more about gender equality and be inspired to be an ally.
If you are a leader, think of ways to use your platform to advance a woman’s career and promote gender equality in your business.
Just as technology companies have revolutionised and disrupted industries, we are in a unique position to lead the way for equality. To reach gender equality, we all need to take consistent steps along this journey. Learn more about our inclusive leadership practices and how to champion equality in business. Finally, use Trailhead to reflect on the value of diversity and inclusion at work and what you can do to promote equality.
Portions of this article are based on ideas written by Isabel Gonçalves for The 360 Blog.