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Salesforce Chair and CEO Marc Benioff Discusses Partnership with Rhode Island on Back to Work Initiative

At a press conference today, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced an investment of $45 million for a workforce development partnership that will create thousands of job opportunities for Rhode Islanders displaced by COVID-19 and help break down traditional barriers to hiring. The initiative – Back to Work RI – will use CARES Act funding to accelerate Rhode Island’s economic comeback, pairing a unifying approach to job training with critical wraparound supports. Salesforce has partnered with Rhode Island on the initiative, and Salesforce Chair and CEO Marc Benioff—along with other business leaders—participated in today’s event.

“We need to give Rhode Islanders the skills and support they need to succeed in the new economy while building pathways to good jobs for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment,” said Governor Raimondo. “If we embrace this opportunity and supercharge the collaborative approach to job training that has helped us rebound over the past six years, Rhode Island’s economy will be stronger, more equal, and more resilient than ever before.”

Salesforce will hire Rhode Islanders to be remote employees and will offer reskilling opportunities on Trailhead, its free online learning platform, as Rhode Island continues to develop as a tech and digital talent hub. Further, Salesforce will partner with Rhode Island Community College to bring Trailhead into its cirriculum to help students learn the in-demand skills needed in today’s workforce and into the future. And Rhode Island is using Salesforce technology to spearhead its contact tracing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following are selected comments that Marc Benioff made at the press conference:

“These have been such challenging times for all of us — it’s a pandemic, it’s an economic crisis, it’s a racial injustice crisis, it’s a global leadership crisis. What I think is so powerful, and this call is evidence, is that business is the greatest platform for change.”

“We are entering a new world, an all-digital, work-anywhere, live-anywhere, educate-anywhere environment. And we all realize the past does not equal the future. We all know that the old world is not coming back. We are in the new world. And we are trying to make this world as successful as we can, for everyone.”

“Salesforce is committed to creating three million new jobs by 2023, and a trillion dollars of revenue from individuals through our entire Salesforce economy. But this has to be an economy that is inclusive for all genders, for all races, and for all sexual orientations.”

“Governor Raimondo gave us a tremendous vision for, a brand new product we’ve built with dozens of other companies to help businesses get back to work safely. It enables contact tracing, shift scheduling and workforce triage and command centers.Thank you, Governor Raimondo, for your vision for and getting businesses back to work safely.”

Much more on Rhode Island’s Back to Work RI initiative can be found here, and a replay of today’s press conference will be available on Governor Raimondo’s Facebook page.


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