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Salesforce Equality Group Leader on the Business Impact of Black Voices

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that highlights how Equality Group presidents navigate their roles and serve Salesforce’s global employees. Check out interviews with the leaders of Faithforce, Vetforce, Latinoforce, and Abilityforce.


BOLDforce, which stands for Black Organization for Leadership and Development, is one of Salesforce’s 13 Equality Groups. The group strives to foster an environment where Black employees are retained, supported, and empowered to live well every day, in every way.

For Black History Month, we wanted to highlight the importance of representation in the rooms where decisions are made. We spoke with Katara Giles, an Engagement Delivery Manager and Global President of BOLDforce, about her unique journey to Salesforce, BOLDforce’s focus on intersectionality, and how Salesforce’s community of Black employees is making an impact on our business.

Q. How did your career path lead you to work at Salesforce?

I actually manifested my career at Salesforce. I was a Salesforce customer in 2011, and then became a partner in 2019 when I joined Acumen Solutions as a consultant. I was on vacation and remember walking past Salesforce Tower during my initial interview with Acumen Solutions, hoping I would work there one day. In 2021, Acumen Solutions was acquired and I became a Salesforce employee — finally!

Wearing so many different hats throughout the Salesforce ecosystem — customer, partner, and more — has given me a unique perspective that I now bring to my role of helping customers leverage the power of Salesforce to solve some of their toughest business challenges.

Wearing so many different hats throughout the Salesforce ecosystem — customer, partner, and more — has given me a unique perspective that I now bring to my role of helping customers leverage the power of Salesforce to solve some of their toughest business challenges.

Katara Giles, Engagement Delivery Manager and Global President of BOLDforce

Q. How did you get involved with BOLDforce?

I was one of the co-founders of the employee resource group for Black employees at Acumen Solutions. After the acquisition, I took on a leadership role as the growth chair of the BOLDforce Washington D.C. chapter. By the time this position opened up on the BOLDforce global leadership board, I had several ideas for how the equality group could best operate, and I decided to apply.

Q. How do you hope to make an impact as President of BOLDforce?

This year, it will be important to have a regional strategy — not only thinking about how we connect with communities across the globe, but also how we address some of the local challenges that employees face outside of the United States.

I’m also challenging my team to think strategically about how we make a real impact on the business. Part of that is about setting clear goals and identifying the metrics we’ll use to know when we’ve met our goals.

I’m also challenging my team to think strategically about how we make a real impact on the business. Part of that is about setting clear goals and identifying the metrics we’ll use to know when we’ve met our goals.

Katara Giles, Engagement Delivery Manager and Global President of BOLDforce

Finally, we’re doing more and more through an intersectional lens. We’re being a lot more strategic to make sure every part of a person’s identity is represented as we plan events and programs for the BOLDforce community.

Q. You mentioned intersectionality. Can you share more about why that’s a focus of yours?

When I think of intersectionality, I think about people who identify with more than one underrepresented group. When you have someone who has a number of different identities, the struggle becomes harder for them to achieve equity.

BOLDforce is really thinking through the experiences those individuals might have at work. We recently looked at the intersection between race and ability by bringing in Dr. Kristin Austin, an expert on neurodiversity and inclusion in the workplace. Dr. Austin helped us better understand the lived experiences of some of our colleagues.

Front-line managers also play an integral role in the experience of those individuals, so we’re exploring ways to get managers more engaged and invite them to these conversations.

Q. Can you share an example of how BOLDforce has helped make an impact at Salesforce?

Knowing Salesforce was at the forefront of the conversation on AI, BOLDforce reached out to the Office of Ethical and Humane Use to better understand how the company is roadmapping new AI products and how we can support them. We had a discovery session [with the Office of Ethical and Humane Use], and identified where BOLDforce can lean in, such as using AI to surface internal job opportunities to underrepresented talent.

Q. Why is it important that BOLDforce is in the room for these conversations?

Systemic racism exists. Not everyone wants to acknowledge it, but it’s there. The reality is that technology can perpetuate bias and increase any gaps that exist. If this happens, technology won’t expand opportunities for people who look like me.

The reality is that technology can perpetuate bias and increase any gaps that exist. If this happens, technology won’t expand opportunities for people who look like me.

Katara Giles, Engagement Delivery Manager and Global President of BOLDforce

That’s why it’s important for us to always have an inclusive lens when we approach new technology. BOLDforce can help ensure that our products are equitable and provide the cultural context that may be lacking.

Q. What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced by being a member of BOLDforce?

There is so much diversity that exists within BOLDforce, and all of our Equality Groups. We have an incredible opportunity to grow our networks and meet people from all parts of the business. We have access to professional development that we may not get in our day-to-day roles, and we can learn about new opportunities within the company. Our Equality Groups are made up of a large pool of people from all walks of life that you can learn a lot from.

Q. What’s something surprising you’ve learned during your time as a leader?

Often, when I meet someone, I’ll ask them to share something with me that I wouldn’t know just by looking at them. You have to be prepared for any response. I’ve had people tell me they served in the military, or they used to be a boxer. Or they may even tell you they participated in the largest food fight in Spain! You’d be surprised what you can uncover from people by having a casual and connected conversation with them. We are more alike than we are different.

I also learned that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership and you have to adjust your style to meet the needs of your team. When you can set your differences aside, focus on the outcomes, and harness the power of diverse perspectives and experiences, you can create something magical.

Getting to Know Katara

q. What is your favorite book on leadership?

I have two I’d recommend. Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones will guide you to live boldly despite sometimes feeling compelled to shrink away. Don’t Fire Them, Fire Them Up: Motivate Yourself and Your Team by Frank Pacetta taught me how to motivate employees, develop trust, and establish feedback and accountability.

q. What has been your favorite BOLDforce event?

Dreaming in Action, where we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, we created a world-class, multi-city activation focused on fostering equality, taking action, and building a culture of equity in the Salesforce ecosystem. We engaged Salesforce executives, customers, partners, community leaders, members, and allies, and held watch parties in all of our major offices around the world. For me personally, I’m really proud of seeing my team deliver such a large-scale and impactful event.

q. Outside of work, where do you find joy?

I really enjoy family time. My husband, Richard, and I have two kids together: Kadence (6) and Zion (4). Experiencing life all over again with them fills my heart. I’m also a bonus-mom to Laylah (19) and enjoy the role of mentor and coach to her. I’m also a foodie. My favorite cuisine is Mexican — rice, tacos, cilantro, all of it! And I have a weakness for seafood, cheesecake, and gummy bears.

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