Quick Take: Salesforce has kicked off a year-long mentorship program that provides 25 Black-owned business founders with sponsorship, education, and networking opportunities to help grow and develop their businesses.
Driving the news: Equality is a long-standing value at Salesforce. In 2020, the company established the Racial Equality and Justice Task Force to accelerate its efforts and focus more deeply on areas it felt could have a real impact. One of those areas was investing in Black-owned businesses.
What’s the impact: The program will pair each mentee with a Salesforce mentor and VP-level sponsor/advocate who aligns with their development goals. Over the next year, mentees will attend quarterly sessions taught by university professors on topics like business strategy pivots, marketing in turbulent times, and talent optimization.
Mentees will also have an opportunity to learn from some of Salesforce’s largest customers, partners, and suppliers during monthly meet-and-greet sessions.
The Salesforce perspective:
“Since launching the Racial Equality and Justice Task Force, we’ve been working hard to drive inclusive business practices and empower businesses owned by people of color to help close the wealth gap and advance racial equality,” said Craig Cuffie, EVP Procurement, Salesforce. “I’m proud that we have committed to spending $100 million with Black-owned businesses over the next three years, and excited to see how this program contributes to our efforts.”
What they’re saying: Ronda Jackson, founder of Decor Interior Design, Inc. and a mentee in the Salesforce mentorship program, shared what she’s most eager to learn over the next 12 months:
- About the program: “I’m excited to receive mentorship from a company that’s so customer-centric to help me think through what I want my customers’ experiences to be like. It’s a good lens to look through after the past year and a half.”
- The pandemic’s impact: “As a small business owner during the pandemic, I was in survival mode. Everything was internally focused — on my employees and their families. Now, I need to realign and refocus. I appreciate that Salesforce thoughtfully paired me with a mentor and executive sponsor with expertise in the areas I want to work on.”
- On growth: “As a solo entrepreneur, I am the final decision maker, so accountability is important. It’s really nice to have a sounding board of corporate executives that do not have personal agendas, that can provide me with insights on corporate objectives, and hold me accountable to my strategic goals.”
- What she hopes to accomplish: “I recently launched an internship program called “In the Mix” for emancipated youth, veterans, and ex-prisoners to transition back into the workforce. My goal is to be part of the solution to help rebuild lives and I am inspired by Salesforce’s DEI work and its impact. I see this as an opportunity to develop my social enterprise model. It’s not just about that next contract.”
Zoom out: Salesforce plans to expand the mentorship program with a second group of 25 Black-owned businesses next year.