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Protocol | Enterprise

Salesforce’s equality struggles burst into the public

Former Salesforce senior manager Cynthia Perry tore into the company and its treatment of Black workers in a recent resignation letter.

Marc Benioff

Benioff has publicly championed Salesforce's diversity efforts, but employees tell a different story.

Photo: Jason Alden/Getty Images

Salesforce is facing fresh pressure over its diversity and inclusion efforts after a senior manager quit amid what she described as consistent discriminatory behavior.

In a resignation letter posted to LinkedIn earlier this month, Cynthia Perry wrote a searing take-down of the company's racial equality efforts, specifically the treatment of Black employees, at the massive software provider.

"I am leaving Salesforce because of countless microaggressions and inequity," she wrote. "I have been gaslit, manipulated, bullied, neglected, and mostly unsupported … the entire time I've been here."

In a statement, Salesforce said it couldn't comment directly on the allegations, citing employee privacy, but noted that equality "is one of our highest values and we have been dedicated to its advancement both inside and outside of our company since we were founded almost 22 years ago."

But its struggles with race and equality aren't new. For one, its diversity statistics remain abysmal: Just 3.4% of its 49,000 workers identify as Black. That's up from prior years, and, to be fair, tech giants like Google and Facebook have equally low numbers. And employees have raised issues internally about the culture at the organization, which routinely touts itself as a leader on racial and gender equality, for years.

"These last few months have been incredibly emotionally and mentally exhausting," one employee wrote in an internal message board in November 2019, according to screenshots reviewed by Protocol. "I didn't realize how difficult, painful or draining it would be on my health to have to fight for equality and equity related answers and change at Salesforce."

But Perry's post is one of the most public criticisms of Salesforce to date. She did, however, praise Warmline, an employee advocacy program for women, Black, Indigenous and Latinx individuals.

"If not for Warmline ... I would have left months ago and in a deeply bitter place," Perry wrote.

Still, Perry echoes many of the same issues that current and former employees previously shared anonymously.

"Salesforce, for me, is not a safe place to come to work. It's not a place where i can be my full self. It's not a place where I have been invested in. It's not a place full of opportunity. It's not a place of Equality for All. It's not a place where well-being matters," she wrote in the letter posted on LinkedIn.

Like others, Perry said the efforts by Salesforce to market the company as a safe haven for workers of all stripes doesn't match the experience of actually being employed there.

"Words must be followed up with action. And if they can't be, then there should be no words," she wrote. "There is a really big gap between how Salesforce portrays itself and the lived experience I had working at this company."

The issue is one that's ultimately up to Benioff to fix, given he has for years claimed the company takes equality seriously. When he found out that many female employees made less than their male counterparts at Salesforce, for example, the company embarked on a $6 million pay equity effort. But it remains to be seen whether this issue rises to the same level of concern as shepherding through the mammoth $27.7 billion purchase of Slack.

Update: This article was updated at 4:45 p.m. PT on Feb. 8 to include Salesforce's comment, as well as to correct Perry's involvement with Warmline and what the program does.

Power

Google wants to help you get a life

Digital car windows, curved AR glasses, automatic presentations and other patents from Big Tech.

A new patent from Google offers a few suggestions.

Image: USPTO

Another week has come to pass, meaning it's time again for Big Tech patents! You've hopefully been busy reading all the new Manual Series stories that have come out this week and are now looking forward to hearing what comes after what comes next. Google wants to get rid of your double-chin selfie videos and find things for you as you sit bored at home; Apple wants to bring translucent displays to car windows; and Microsoft is exploring how much you can stress out a virtual assistant.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Sponsored Content

The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Protocol | Enterprise

A Black Salesforce manager alleged a ‘culture of rampant microaggressions’

The company continues to face criticism over what employees claim is a failure to match external hype about equality with internal progress.

Salesforce is ramping up efforts to sell its software to the U.S. government.
Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

The internal backlash against Salesforce's touted diversity and inclusion efforts continues.

Vivianne Castillo, a manager in Salesforce's design research and innovation unit, announced her departure earlier this month in an internal note that criticized the software giant's culture as one that is discriminatory against Black employees, according to a screenshot of the company chat that was viewed by Protocol. Her last day is Friday, per a Twitter post.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Protocol | Enterprise

Rimini Street is trying to stifle SAP and Oracle's cloud business

The animosity dates back over a decade, but the feud is reaching new heights.

Search for Rimini Street in Google, and one of the top results that pops up, just below the company's own site, is this one from Oracle.

Image: Protocol

For over a decade, a bitter feud has been raging in the enterprise software industry, pitting SAP and Oracle against Rimini Street, a relative unknown in comparison that's trying to undermine one of their most lucrative revenue streams. Now, that battle is nearing a pinnacle as the legacy providers try to persuade their customers to make the pivot to the cloud.

Founded in 2005 by former PeopleSoft executives, Rimini Street made a name for itself offering cheaper support for Oracle and SAP products than the vendors themselves provide. The business model hits at an under-the-radar, but critical aspect of deploying big-ticket products from any software titan: the need to continually keep the systems up to date. And the importance of that maintenance revenue stream — one of the largest for both SAP and Oracle — is evident in the intensity of the drama with Rimini Street.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

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