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Innovation

Leading Our Legal Team with Values: How We Drive Positive Outcomes and Elevate Equality

Todd Machtmes

I’ve been at Salesforce 16 years, and so I’ve got the benefit of the long view in figuring out what makes a company and a legal team successful and enduring.  Great products are important, to be sure.  But real success comes from inspiration.  And at the heart of inspiration are values.  When a company’s values are real you can feel it.  Customers can feel it.  Employees can feel it.  Communities can feel it.   And when those values revolve around helping others you’ve found a special kind of success. 

As our General Counsel, I have the privilege of leading a team focused on driving good outcomes for not only our own company, but for stakeholders far and wide. Our strengths are driven by our values – advancing Trust, prioritizing our customers’ success, constantly innovating, and always working to advance equality and ensure our team better reflects our communities.  I see this values-driven, innovative, customer-centric approach as the future of legal; it’s key to the success of a modern legal team.  

Leading with Values

Our values are core to who we are as a company.  They are what motivates and guides me every day as a leader.  And the sense of common purpose they provide are the foundation for a resilient, inspired team.

One of the things that makes me proudest of our team is our continued commitment to giving back, and in particular, our ongoing pro bono legal efforts. The legal team embraces Salesforce’s Volunteer Time Off (VTO) program, which provides 7 days a year of paid time to give back, to use our skills to support underserved communities who may not have access to critical legal services.  Service to others in need is fundamental to who we are, and pro bono work is an essential part of that service. 

Our legal pro bono program focuses on three specific areas: homelessness, youth & children, and equality. To increase our impact, we have developed deep relationships with non-profit organizations, such as:

Many team members have helped kids in the immigration system complete DACA applications and LGBTQ asylum seekers with the application process to become legal permanent residents.  Others help people who are suffering from onerous bail requirements.  And much more.

Advancing equality is especially important for our legal team.  Those with legal training and licensing have a unique responsibility to create meaningful, systemic change. We continue to work towards equality – striving to make our team reflect our communities, creating equitable opportunity across our team, and supporting the work of the Salesforce Racial Equality and Justice Task Force (REJTF). 

Legal and Corporate Affairs formed a  Diversity Committee to directly contribute to advancing equality. Our Diversity Committee creates a tremendously valuable connection between Legal and Corporate Affairs and Equality team members. The Committee helps set the vision for our work on racial equality and justice, together with the critically important step in saying how we’re going to get there.  As the Committee’s discussions advanced, they elected to adopt the four-pillar framework established by the REJTF, focusing our efforts on people, purchasing, philanthropy and policy. 

To advance this work throughout the department, we have created a dedicated position serving as our Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator.  The Coordinator is empowered to hold me and my senior leadership team accountable for making meaningful progress against the four pillars established by the REJTF: 

  • People: The people pillar is about looking within our own house to further diverse talent recruitment, development and advancement. 
  • Purchasing: Another area where we can hold ourselves accountable is in purchasing. Our impact can have a multiplier effect if we choose to live our values when engaging vendors, especially outside counsel.  Working with our vendors, we have committed to tracking and expanding the number of diverse professionals working on Salesforce matters at law firms.
  • Philanthropy: We are privileged to be able to give back to our communities, through philanthropic giving, pro bono activities, and VTO. When looking to give back, we prioritize organizations that serve diverse communities. 
  • Policy: As legal professionals, we appreciate the impact of policies and legislation in creating more equitable results. So, we are working to identify and address professional and industry policies and licensing requirements that have a disparate impact on diverse professionals. We also want to leverage legal tools to advance equality, which is why our litigation team partners with government affairs to identify, join, and even author amicus briefs for cases advancing the cause of equality. 

One way I support our equality efforts personally is as an executive sponsor for Vetforce, our employee resource group for veterans, families of service members, and allies passionate about supporting our military. Vetforce works to ensure that our company policies are veteran-friendly, and help veterans and families transition to civilian life. This is a community close to my heart, as my dad was a career Air Force officer.  All who serve do so with sacrifice, some at tremendous, even the ultimate, cost.  It’s very important to me to pay forward the opportunities that I’ve been afforded, and I’m honored to get to do so by working with Vetforce.

In-House Innovation

Innovation is also a value essential to us as a legal team to support the company in an ever more complex environment, and to scale with its constant and rapid growth.  We use our own products to create new, easier and more efficient ways of doing business, testing new ideas to bring to customers. 

We use the Salesforce platform within legal to make it easy for our internal customers to access our services.  For example, we use case functionality and other aspects of the platform to deliver a truly unique patent handling system. This enables our developers to submit their ideas for patents and have them evaluated efficiently and with visibility into the process. It has transformed the patent application process and helped us protect our intellectual property in a uniquely agile way. 

After 16 years at Salesforce, I believe that you can still draw a straight line from our commitments and our success to our values. Our legal team contends with challenges that have grown increasingly complex, from the complexity of our products to the complexity of the regulatory environment, and much more, but values remain our North Star.  Our values drive us forward, and our legal team puts values first.

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