During a fireside chat at Wired25 with Wired Deputy Editor Adam Rogers, Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff discussed fighting homelessness in San Francisco and other social issues. “We have about 7,500 homeless individuals in San Francisco on our streets,” he said. “And we have about 1,200 homeless families. I’m excited about the November 6 election. There is a proposition on the ballot that would help address our most urgent needs, which are not only providing shelter for our homeless but also healthcare and mental health care.”
Benioff has recently expressed support for Proposition C, the ballot measure that would raise taxes by half a percent on big businesses in San Francisco to fund programs aimed at fighting homelessness. Salesforce is the largest employer in San Francisco.
He noted that San Francisco has 70 billionaires who could contribute more to working on social problems in partnership with local governments. “There's a group of people in the city who are willing to give. And there's a group of people in the city who don't,” he said.
"San Francisco is amazing,” he added. “We have these incredible companies and entrepreneurs, innovation and technology, but we cannot separate ourselves from others. We have to get back to the feeling that we are one, and we are responsible for the city that we are living in and growing our businesses in."
Public schools are in need of attention, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to bring our kids with us, Benioff noted. He added that CEOs and people everywhere should get involved with efforts to improve the environment, hospitals and more. “Each one of us can walk down the street and go to our local public school,” he said. “That’s what I did, and I realized that public education won’t improve without me getting involved. We’re about to enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If kids don’t have basic K-12 educations, they’re not going to be coming with us. Are we not going to bring all these kids with us?”
Salesforce has donated $50 million to public schools in San Francisco and Oakland, and employees have spent hundreds of thousands of hours volunteering in schools in their local communities.
“When I went to business school,” Benioff said, “it was all about shareholders and maximizing share value. But what you have to think about today is managing for all of your stakeholders, including customers, employees, partners and shareholders. Some of our key stakeholders include the homeless, who are everywhere over at Salesforce Tower. What about our public schools? You can’t separate yourself from these stakeholders, and the greatest joy in your life is going to come from giving back to others,” Benioff added.
"You’re either for the homeless and for the kids and for the hospitals or you are for yourself," he concluded.