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Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block Discusses the Trust Crisis and Digital Transformation in a Q&A with Fortune

In a new interview with Fortune’s Jonathan Vanian, Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block called out a growing crisis of trust among governments, organizations and communities. “I think it’s created a bit of a void that needs to be filled,” he said. “I think executives and CEOs can fill that void by speaking out. I think there needs to be more of a public sector—private sector partnership. I don’t think it can be just the government and I don’t think it can be just CEOs.”

In addition to discussing the new operational models and practices for protecting trust that today’s companies must apply, Block talked about the complementary leadership approaches that he and co-CEO Marc Benioff have developed. “What Marc likes to focus on is thinking about company strategy, product strategy, and culture,” Block said. “Really, day-to-day operations is where my strength is, and a lot of focus on customers. Everything is about the customer. In the beginning of this century there was this huge push on taking costs out, and that will always be there. But there’s a new thing going on here—a new global phenomena on digital transformation, which is about growth. CEOs need to grow. You can’t cut your way to prosperity.”

Block also discussed support from Benioff and Salesforce for Proposition C, a proposal that won a majority vote in the November election and is expected to raise corporate taxes by .5 percent on companies making more than $50 million in revenue to fund housing and help for San Francisco’s homeless population. “My wife and I live in the city—and this is a beautiful city, and there’s obviously a problem that has to be addressed with the homeless,” Block said. “It’s a problem with the city, the community, and for our customers.”

“Our customers want to feel that they’re coming to a place where they’re safe and welcome and where people are being taken care of,” Block added.

Read the full interview for more on trust, operational excellence and the complex dynamics of today’s business environment. Fortune has ranked Salesforce the #15 Most Admired Company and #1 on its 2018 100 Best Companies to Work For list, in addition to naming the company on its Change the World list for three years in a row.


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