Salesforce is committed to building an inclusive workplace that reflects society. In that spirit, Salesforce partnered with Entrepreneurs in Action (EiA) to deliver their Classroom to Boardroom programme, aimed at providing young undergraduate and postgraduate Black students with an opportunity to connect with the IT industry. With support from the UK leadership team, this programme has shaped the pathways for some of the youth in London.
Over 100 students were invited from 40 universities to take part in this programme, with all students undergoing a coaching day, hosted by EiA and Salesforce volunteers. During this virtual event, the students were introduced to various parts of the business, coached by EiA trainers, and interviewed by Salesforce staff. Following, 27 students were selected to undergo Phase II of the programme, where they were presented with a Business Challenge that Salesforce is currently experiencing which provided them with a pivotal opportunity of exploring the tech industry.
One student commented, "There were many parts I enjoyed about this programme but my favourite had to be the One Day programme. The advice, encouragement, and lessons that I was able to receive were invaluable. Definitely learnt things that I will carry for the rest of my life."
When Phase II began, all 27 selected students filled our screens with vibrant, engaged, and enthusiastic faces. Considering this is the first time we have five generations working together in the workplace, our Business Challenge presented to the students was centered around the topic of social media, Generation Z, and the impact of COVID on this group.
The students were asked to spend 4 days exploring answers to the Business Challenge, interacting with current Salesforce staff to understand the current initiatives, conducting research to see what other companies are doing, and then compiling a presentation to present to the VP+ executives in the UK. Not only did the students get the opportunity to present to Salesforce leaders, but they got a chance to work with other Black students who they did not know before the start of the programme. One student commented that his favourite part of the programme was "being able to engage with so many intelligent and ambitious people that look like me. I have never been able to work with so many Black, smart individuals in my life." And, many comments portrayed the same sentiment which proves that programmes like these are invaluable for this community.
When the executives joined the final presentation, they were overwhelmed by the creativity, entrepreneurship, and ability to connect with the business. Not only that but as Toby Astor, VP of Salesforce Ignite International commented, "the event and presentation inspired the whole leadership team, challenged our innovators to think differently, and offered up some genuinely new recommendations for topics we should investigate. An inspiring, innovative and compelling presentation that was deeply researched with well thought through recommendations."
Finally, as part of the programme, each of the 27 students were matched to a Salesforce mentor for the next 12 months, with their first task of applying for our Salesforce Futureforce programmes. Sharon King, VP of Pre-Sales, commented that the Classroom to Boardroom programme provides "valuable insight into the talent and innovation of young people - experience does not always give the full story of potential." Additionally, allowing Salesforce employees to connect with future talent ensures they are connected and continuously learning.
The Classroom to Boardroom programme has been eye opening, not only for the students but also the leadership team. The students have had an opportunity to connect and present with leaders in a booming industry - learning directly from them. "I think the best part has to be the jubilation after the presentation on Friday. To hear the high praise from senior people in the industry gave me a real sense of achievement", was a comment from another student.
Salesforce looks forward to hosting future sessions and encouraging talent from diverse backgrounds to choose Salesforce as their employer of choice. An encouraging quote from a student, which highlights the need for more programmes like this is "The best part of this programme firstly is the fact that it exists in the first place. I have never been part of anything like this tailored for Black talented individuals." The workplace is a mirror of society and by unplugging talent pipelines and providing equality of opportunity for everyone, deep and sustained change can be affected.
Together, we can reach equality in the workplace and build an industry that truly reflects the society around us. Learn more about our commitment to equality: Salesforce.com/Equality. If you’re interested in a career at Salesforce, visit our careers page.