Salesforce exec discusses how to improve the levels of diversity in tech

Organisations shouldn’t implement technology for technology’s sake. And the same is true for diversity — new hires or internal promotions need to be made based on quality. But, having said that, a diverse organisation is stronger than one that’s not.

“Quality is a core tenant of how we run our business and being more equal and diverse makes us a better company,” confirmed Helen Kelisky, vice president, cloud sales UKI at Salesforce and Women in IT Awards London 2020 judge.

Salesforce’s diversity drive

As one of the premium sponsors at this year’s Women in IT Awards, it is evident the technology giant is committed to improving the levels of diversity in tech.

But, how has it approached improving levels of diversity within its own organisation? Information Age found out.

According to Kelisky, there are three key areas where Salesforce operates, which is shows its commitment to and focus on equality:

1. Equal pay for equal work — over the last three years Salesforce have spent $9 million to ensure that men and women are paid equally.

2. Equal rights — the company actively champions marriage equality and it has stood against anti-LGBT legislation in the places where it does business.

3. Equal opportunities — “we’re committed to creating a diverse workplace that reflects the communities we serve,” said Kelisky.

“All these things shape our culture,” she continued, “and we must be doing something right as we were recently named the number one best workplace in the UK by a Great Place to Work.”

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Improving levels of diversity: attracting, developing and retaining

Organisations need to;

• be attractive to different types of minorities,
• be able to develop different types of people and
• be able to retain them.

“The foundation of this is to create a psychologically safe environment,” explained Kelisky.

“This is something that is a challenge, but something that is incredibly important to us. To achieve this type of environment, we run an employee survey twice a year and in it, there is a question about psychological safety — we want people to feel that they can be their best selves at work and that they can bring themselves to work whoever they are and whatever experiences they’ve had,” she added.

Diversity is important for success

In today’s fast-paced environment, organisations will struggle if they’re not attracting a diverse workforce, because “you’ve got to feed the funnel”, or deliver products and services that meet the requirements of a diverse customer base.

Committed to this, Kelisky referred to Salesforce’s university recruiting program, Futureforce. “Through this initiative, we’re hiring 64% women, which is unheard of in other IT companies that I know of.”

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“Stand out or feel shut out”

“Being a minority can be taken in two ways; you can stand out or you you can feel shut out,” said Kelisky.

“My experiences led me to use it as a positive motivation, being different and unique within a larger organisation. And I like to think that this has helped other people around me be their own selves.”

In her role, she’s also created a ladder that’s helped other women, and other minorities, advance, be their best selves and develop their careers.

A diverse society

“It’s really important that we reflect the diversity of society as much as we can,” concluded Kelisky.

“Having a broad range of experience drives better decision making, and therefore we can be more successful in business. And then we can do more good for society. In this way, you create a virtuous circle and that’s really important.

“It’s about embracing society.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...