WIT Ireland Summit 2020 Q&A — Terri Moloney, senior director, employee success, Salesforce

Terri Moloney, senior director of employee success at Salesforce Ireland, will be conducting an interview session, titled ‘Leading Through Crisis’, with Michael Levin, president of Custom Solutions Inc. at the Women in IT Ireland Summit on the 17th November 2020.

Taking place at 2:50pm GMT, the session will explore what lessons can be taken from navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic, how to measure what’s ‘good’ as a leader, what skills or abilities can be aligned with good leadership, and whether this is an opportunity to promote underrepresented groups.

If you would like to register for the event, please click here. Registration for the virtual summit is free of charge.

Why do you think that a lack of diversity is still a problem in IT?

We’re now in a situation where it’s more helpful to look forward, rather than back, and explanations and excuses that have been used in the past are no longer credible.

There has been an underrepresentation of women in science for years, and I think that’s been perpetuated by unconscious bias. It’s taken a long time for industries to acknowledge the problem and make it a top priority.

For us, we’ve seen some progress on equality in the last five years, which makes me optimistic, but I really do think it’s progress that’s happened over time, not overnight, within the IT sector. Representation of women continues to grow; it’s not where we’d like it to be, but in the US, it’s just over 36%, and globally, nearly 34%. We have 11,000 more women in Salesforce now than we had five years ago, which is great, but it’s not the equal representation we want.

Diversity is more than just about women, and there are a number of elements that we are looking at.

As a female leader in IT, how have you managed to promote diversity within the workplace?

I feel very lucky that Salesforce treats equality as a core value, so it drives everything we do, and having that organisational support enables a lot more progress than a smaller organisation or subsidiary trying to do it on its own. As a big organisation like Salesforce, we’re able to do this globally, which has a huge impact.

We’ve put in place an equal pay programme, which has been growing for a number of years now, and we look at equal pay for equal work. Over the last number of years, we’ve spent more than £12 million on addressing this, since we started the programme. We’ve been looking at those unexplained gaps, with people doing the same job but of a different gender, and addressing that in a systematic way. I think that’s made a substantial difference to how we engage with people within the business.

Also, we’ve recently combined our recruiting organisation with our equality organisation, which is quite unique. Bringing those bodies together creates an opportunity to lead with the value of equality across the whole employee lifecycle.

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We regularly publish our equality data on our website, but senior leaders also receive a monthly scorecard, which looks at headcount, attrition, and all of the equality data. That keeps it at the top of leaders’ minds, and keeps us focused on achieving our aspirations around that.

Most recently, in the UK and Ireland, we have our Self ID programme. What we try to do here is better recognise the diverse populations we have in the company, so we can tailor our equality programmes and create representation goals that are specific to us in Europe. This has been in place in the US for years, and while we’re limited to what we can do in Europe due to different regulations, we’re making a start by having this be voluntary. We’ve had a good response from our employees, and we’re starting to get data on that, so come back to me next year, and I’ll tell you more about how that’s going!

Could you please talk me through the session that you’ll be participating in during the upcoming WIT Summit Ireland?

Michael Levin and I will be discussing how to lead through a crisis. I’m delighted to be partnering with Michael on this, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot from him. We’ll be discussing what we’ve learned this year, because Covid-19 has been a unique experiment in the workplace, the importance of courage and vulnerability in leadership, and how to help people thrive in this environment.

Another thing we want to talk about, and that we have talked about, is how work and home is actually blurred, and the stress that this causes. Personally, I was used to an hour and 15 minute commute to and from work, and that’s my downtime, which we don’t have anymore. We’re out of bed, getting our breakfast, and then going straight onto the computer, so there’s no time to wind down.

We want to explore how we can prioritise wellness throughout the day, which Salesforce has worked on with our wellness programme, as well as workshops and training, as well as making sure that staff have permission to focus on their wellness, so they can be productive.

We’ll be talking about how we can be more inclusive in our promotions. You often hear the motto “You can’t be what you can’t see”, so we will look at how we can focus on underrepresented groups, and making sure they have equal opportunities. This can include things like blind resumes to challenge unconscious bias, online training platforms like Trailhead, which we have at Salesforce, and focusing on future performance rather than appraisals. At Salesforce, we don’t do appraisals anymore, but instead have development conversations, and we have dashboards to look after performance.

Lastly, we’ll try to look at how to define something as ‘good’ as a leader, which is difficult to determine. One idea we’ll be discussing is measuring development, and gender breakdowns when it comes to promotion. The discussion may go in different directions, as conversations tend to do, but I’m really looking forward to it.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.