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Company Culture

In a New York Times Interview, Marc Benioff Shares his Views on the Role of Companies and CEOs

“This idea that somebody put into our heads — that companies are somehow these kind of individuated units that are separate from society and don’t have to be paying attention to the communities they’re in — that is incorrect,” said Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff in a New York Times interview with David Gelles. “We need to have a more enlightened view about the role of companies.”

Gelles asked Benioff how Salesforce imbues employees with its core values and culture. “On their first day of work, we take everyone and we show them the kitchen and the bathroom and their office and their desk,” he said. “Then we take them out and they do service in the afternoon. They’ll go to a homeless shelter or they’ll go to the hospital or go to a public school. This is a very core part of our culture.”

In response to a reader question, Benioff shared his view of modern companies and their responsibilities. “There’s a shift going on,” he said. “When I went to U.S.C., it was all about maximizing value for shareholders. But we’re moving into a world of stakeholders. It’s not just about shareholders. Your employees are stakeholders, so are your customers, your partners, the communities that you’re in, the homeless that are nearby, your public schools. A company like ours can’t be successful in an unsuccessful economy or in an unsuccessful environment or where the school system doesn’t work. We have to take responsibility for all of those things.”

The interview, conducted at Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco, also delves into Salesforce’s social innovation efforts in the city, and work to improve the lives of the homeless. “We have a plan to get every homeless family off the streets within five years,” he said. “We cannot delegate these complex problems off to the government and say, ‘We’re not all part of it.”

Read the interview: Marc Benioff of Salesforce: ‘Are We Not All Connected?’


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