How Shared Transatlantic Values Can Help Shape Technology’s Future
Today, as part of the ReThink Digital Summit discussion, “Shaping Europe’s digital future,” I joined Anne Marie Engtoft Larsen, Denmark’s Tech Ambassador, to explore how together we can promote a responsible, democratic, and secure technological future that effectively responds to the world’s greatest challenges. The United States and the European Union have a long history of overcoming challenges together, and we’re excited for what the future could bring across key areas: building back responsibility, climate action and human rights.
Building back responsibly
It’s been over 20 years since the first Salesforce hub outside of the US opened. That hub was in Ireland, just one year after Salesforce was founded in San Francisco. As our presence and ecosystem continues to grow, we’re proud of consistently being considered one of the best places to work in Europe. A large reason for this is our commitment to a core set of values, a lens through which we make business decisions: trust, customer success, innovation and equality.
Shared values have become even more important against the backdrop of the global pandemic and acceleration of digital transformation. As economies recover, it is vital that the technology solutions we develop and adopt respect fundamental rights and equality. When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and privacy laws, building consumer confidence is key to enhancing transatlantic commerce and personal relationships.
Ambassador Engtoft Larsen rightly highlighted the need for dialogue and engagement not just between the EU and US but also the public and private sectors. “We simply cannot sit in two silos with legislation on one side and having a tech sector that it is effecting,” she said. “There are transatlantic values at stake, but this is an opportunity for closer public and private collaboration. We need to walk the talk.”
Prioritizing climate action
Indeed it’s one thing for businesses to commit to being a platform for change. It’s another to effectively engage all of your stakeholders — shareholders, customers and partners, employees, and communities — to deeply listen and understand their priorities.
At Salesforce, we consider the planet a key stakeholder; we advocate for policies that set us all on a just path to a low-carbon economy. In March we officially included climate as a part of the company’s public policy platform, joining priorities like equal rights, privacy and security, and others. A global challenge like climate change requires a global solution. 2021 is a critical year in setting an ambitious shared agenda on climate change, particularly with November’s COP26 UN Climate Change Conference.
Promoting democracy and human rights
In the face of geopolitical volatility, advantages of close EU-US cooperation are clear, particularly in our shared promotion of democracy and human rights. Over the past year, Salesforce has deepened our advocacy to protect voting rights and secure elections; both of which form the foundation for stronger democracies.
One of the reasons why the Ambassador’s work is so welcome is her focus on how our shared values can help build a better future for all. Encouraging technology companies to take their responsibilities seriously, supporting democratic institutions, and promoting safety and cybersecurity, she said, can “help shape how technology can become a purposeful vehicle for positive change and transformation in our society.”
Across the Atlantic, there is so much that unites us. Values-driven leadership has helped us overcome common challenges. As we look to a new agenda, we will accomplish important and challenging efforts together, ultimately promoting a responsible, democratic and safe future for all.
Watch the full Rethink Digital EU Summit interview here.