On Thursday, Dec. 8, Salesforce hosted its fifth annual Representation Matters racial equality summit, presented by Deloitte Digital. The hybrid event aims to elevate and amplify the voices of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ community members as it celebrates progress made on representation in the tech space – and continues to accelerate change.
We caught up with one of the co-founders of Representation Matters, VP of Employer Brand & Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce, Molly Q. Ford, to hear why coming together in community is critical to driving collective impact on some of society’s biggest challenges.
Q. What does representation mean to you?
My family moved from Dallas to California when I was entering first grade. For the first time, I walked into a room and stood out because I had a southern Texas accent that no one else had. Later, I went to a predominantly white institution for college — I walked into those classrooms and didn’t see people who looked like me. When I went into corporate America, it was the same thing.
I want to look around a room and see folks like me exceed.Molly Ford, VP of Employer Brand & Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce
There’s awesome talent in Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities that need an opportunity to just walk into tech and show you what they can do. Representation matters to me because I want to walk in a room and have allies, and to ensure that there are ample opportunities for anyone to succeed.
Q. How does Salesforce work toward ensuring representation in its workforce?
Equality is a longstanding value at Salesforce and an important part of our identity. We’re working hard to create a company that reflects the world around us and this means accelerating representation.
Over the last few years, we’ve been deeply focused on re-imagining our hiring systems with equality at the center. We’ve seen significant change thanks to new initiatives like our diversity recruiting team, a more equitable referral process, and the Insiders program, which connects candidates to employees from their community.
Q. What kind of progress has Salesforce made on the representation front?
We have more than doubled our hiring of Black, Latinx, and underrepresented folks since we first launched proactive programs.
And today, more than half of our U.S. employees are members of underrepresented groups — achieving the goal we set in 2019 nearly a year ahead of schedule.Molly Ford, VP of Employer Brand & Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce
We also tie executive compensation to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals – including representation. This is an important step for us to build greater accountability, lead with our values, and accelerate our ESG initiatives. We recognize there’s a lot more work to be done and we’re continuing to listen deeply and work with our Equality Groups, stakeholders, and peers to share learnings and accelerate our progress towards Equality.
Q. What makes the Representation Matters event unique from other equality summits?
The Salesforce calling card is events like Dreamforce, where 170,000 registered people come to San Francisco to learn about technology and innovation. It’s the world’s largest software conference — it’s been called the Super Bowl of cloud computing.
With Representation Matters, we took that same playbook of engaging customers through events, but focused it specifically on engaging communities that are underrepresented in tech. We bring in Black, Indigenous, and Latinx speakers to learn from, elevate, and celebrate them.
Those of us who identify with these communities don’t often see folks who look like us on big tech stages. This event gives us the opportunity to see and hear from leaders who exclusively look like us. We get to use Salesforce’s platform to showcase and celebrate our heroes.
Q. What do attendees take away from the Representation Matters summit?
We want folks to walk away inspired, elevated, and proud — in that special way that comes from the affirming experience of seeing yourself represented.
During a previous Representation Matters summit, Larry Quinlan, who at the time was Global CIO of Deloitte, spoke to us about the importance of having mutually beneficial mentorship and sponsorship relationships. And Ryan Coogler, director and co-writer of Black Panther, spoke about the role that allyship has played in his career. Having that kind of support in pitch rooms, and then for us in the audience to be able to correlate that to finding allyship in corporate America — it’s powerful.
These are the kinds of conversations that attendees joined. From discussing the positive relationship between innovation and diversity, inclusion, and leading with purpose, to tangible ways for leaders and aspiring leaders to transform their workspaces — attendees will learn real-life career strategies that make them feel empowered and celebrated.