Fortune is hosting its CEO Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City this week, and Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff participated in a fireside chat with Alan Murray, President and CEO of Fortune.
The Fortune CEO Initiative is a forum for corporate leaders who are committed to addressing major social problems as part of their core business strategies. According to Fortune, the Initiative grew out of an historic meeting of 100 CEOs with Pope Francis at the Vatican in December 2016, and is based on a belief that infusing broader purpose into corporate strategies has become increasingly important in attracting and motivating talent, deepening bonds with consumers, steadying corporate reputation in an era of declining trust.
Murray and Benioff discussed changing demands placed on CEOs, business as a platform for change, leading with values, and how workplace culture has changed in the past decade. “As millennials have entered the workforce, they’re far more active, involved, and interested in creating a culture,” Benioff said. “Before, I think the culture was kind of the very lonely job of the HR executive or maybe even the CEO. And now, the workforce realizes that they’re actually a critical part of making that happen.”
Benioff noted that it is more important than ever for CEOs to listen to their employees. “How do you listen to your employees?” he asked. “How do you listen to your customers? I might be called an activist CEO because I’m responding to what my employees want, but it’s not true. If you’re not going to do that, you’re not going to be the CEO. We have a lot of examples from Silicon Valley of CEOs who are now not CEOs because they did not listen--fired by their employees.”