Change depends on all of us — individuals, organisations, communities. This is the crux of Salesforce’s focus on equality and business as a platform for change.
In Australia, this means examining our roles in reconciliation, both as an organisation and as individual employees. And, with the recent National Reconciliation Week challenging all Australians to ‘Be Brave, Make Change’, it’s a good opportunity to keep conversations going and — most importantly — make actual change.
As part of that, we’ve launched our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a series of formal commitments and strategies. This is the result of a three-year journey to ensure we are useful allies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and that Salesforce Australia is leveraging our strengths to create meaningful change, both inside our organisation, across our partnerships, and within the wider community.
Here’s how we’re creating change, now and in the future.
Cultivating Accountability: The Journey to Our Reconciliation Action Plan
The road to our first RAP couldn’t have happened without the expertise and guidance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This work has been supported by Salesforce’s equality group WINDforce, representing a Worldwide Indigenous Network of Diversity. As part of WINDforce’s mission, employees are focused on driving reconciliation through education, truth-sharing and collaboration.
WINDforce emphasises actions rather than words, and the RAP is a critical step in understanding and formalising which steps Salesforce will take or continue taking. With our first draft submitted to Reconciliation Australia in 2019, our journey has been a process of ongoing learning and collaboration.
In our view, reconciliation is a continuous journey. There’s a starting point, but there is no end point —we’ll always be learning and striving to improve.
Aleta Keating, a Senior Manager and WINDforce member who helped drive the creation of our RAP, says that sort of constant learning is indispensable to actually making change.
“The key principle of reconciliation is respect and understanding history. There is a lot to confront about our history and the actions that were taken against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country. [Our] RAP is a platform where we can build a community of allies who are prepared to take on the responsibility to elevate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices on issues that can make us uncomfortable.
“It has to come from the heart, and you have to learn something about yourself along the way.”
Change Starts at ‘Home’: Driving Internal Awareness and Understanding
A huge part of our RAP requires building better cultural awareness from the inside-out, ensuring Salesforce Australia employees are empowered to be leaders, activists and allies. And this often happens through WINDforce’s employee engagement – the group actively looks for opportunities throughout the year to open discussions and educate employees.
This includes with our Employee Success team partnering with Arilla, an Indigenous consulting group, to improve awareness of Indigenous issues, histories, cultures, knowledge and rights.
It also means reflecting on National Reconciliation Week, which took place last week and involved awareness-raising initiatives across Salesforce Australia. That included a fireside discussion with Uncle Allan Murray, Chair of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, and Jennifer Mar Young, CEO of CareerTrackers, and Salesforce employee who was recruited through CareerTrackers, Dooley Whitton.
During the discussion, we discussed tips on how everyone can personally get involved in creating a more just and equitable Australia — for instance, getting a better understanding of their team’s role in the RAP, joining the WINDforce Slack channel, or encouraging three other teams to complete the Arilla Indigenous Cultural training.
Looking Forward: Taking a Multifaceted Approach
Reconciliation can’t happen in isolation. For businesses, this means scrutinising every point in which we impact communities, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Internal awareness-raising and employee engagement both play a big role in that work. But there’s a wide range of areas that require change if we’re going to realise the primary mission outlined in our RAP: to enable greater access and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the globe to the opportunities presented in a digital-first world.
These can be broken into four main categories, each with its own actionable, measurable components.
Through partnerships and philanthropic work with organisations like the Goodes O’Loughlin Foundation (GO Foundation), we’ll be establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and organisations. So far, Salesforce has donated AUD$23,000 to the foundation, which provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from kindergarten through to employment. To help achieve academic goals, Salesforce’s contributions have enabled scholarships for 182 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
This year, Salesforce Philanthropy announced support for DeadlyScience to help increase STEM and broader school engagement and attendance for remote Indigenous students, educate and facilitate science-based careers, and engage in a two-way learning process between Indigenous and non-Indigenous science.
We’re also ensuring we create a culturally safe workplace where First Nation’s talent can thrive and we’re promoting reconciliation wherever possible, ensuring that we’re driving awareness and education beyond Salesforce Australia. A significant part of this is the principle of self determination, ensuring that First Nations voices are involved at every step and present in our RAP Working Group. We’ve also established an External First Nations Advisory to interface with our Executive Governance Group.
Establishing Recognition and Support for Lasting, Significant Change
Much of our work in this category focuses on building awareness and understanding, such as reflecting during National Reconciliation Week and celebrating NAIDOC week.
But it also includes other tangible actions, such as existing practices like inviting Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander elders to speak at key events, or refining existing cultural protocol documents and policies.
Consistent with our core value of Equality, Salesforce supports an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.
Creating Opportunities, Inside and Outside Salesforce
With Australia facing a digital skills shortage, and many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities denied equal access to the educational resources necessary to thrive in a digital-first world, another major pillar of our RAP focuses on opportunity.
That’s why our RAP formalises changes to our recruitment policies and practices, with the goal of improving employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait talent across Salesforce Australia. This leverages and builds on our existing partnerships with organisations like CareerTrackers, which connects Indigenous students to employers offering paid internships.
But, again, reconciliation doesn’t end within the bounds of our own organisation. It also needs to include who — and how — we partner with those outside the organisation. For instance, the suppliers and partners we choose across our value chain. Our RAP commits us to improving supplier diversity, using formal changes to procurement practices and employee training.
Many of these commitments are first steps in a continuous journey, where we’ll be constantly working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve outcomes and discover new paths to reconciliation.
But, sometimes, the first steps are the most critical. While the journey so far has been inspiring and will act as a vital foundation, we’re looking ahead to the ways in which we can continue empowering brave choices and true change.
Salesforce Reconcilation Action Plan Artwork
‘Bring Country Together’ by Riki Salam (Mualgal, Kaurareg, Kuku Yalanji), We are 27 Creative.