Leadership Sets the Tone for Diversity in Tech

Mar 9, 2015 · 3 min read

By Parker Harris

In many cases, amazing innovations start with a single question. When we started Salesforce, we asked, “Why can’t business software be as easy to use as Amazon.com?” And with that question, we completely disrupted enterprise software. We also asked, “Can you build a software company rooted in philanthropy?” From that question, the Salesforce Foundation and the 1–1–1 model of integrated philanthropy were born.

One of the questions I’ve been trying to answer recently is “How can we get more women into technology?”

Leadership truly sets the tone. Are we actively try to recruit, provide opportunities for and promote women? As a cofounder of Salesforce, I am committed to asking these questions and challenging myself to do better. Below are a few things we should all do to create more diverse, more successful teams:

Be transparent and facilitate an open dialogue.

Address unconscious bias.

Develop diverse tech talent early.

Engineering teams with people from different backgrounds, who have a variety skills and perspectives, will help you identify opportunities, anticipate and solve problems, and innovate faster than your competition. In fact, a 2012 study found that employees who felt included and believed diversity was supported at work were able to innovate more (an 83 percent increase), and team collaboration improved by 42 percent. You can bet sales went up as a result.

At Salesforce, we believe for a company to do well financially, we must do good. And creating a culture that appreciates diversity is a big part of it. It’s a challenging task — one that starts with our children’s educational system, requires mentorship and fostering of talent along the way, and ultimately leads to a truly representative workforce. It won’t be easy, but we can make an impact with every question we ask and every conversation we have.

Parker Harris is co-founder of Salesforce and oversees product strategy. Originally published at blogs.salesforce.com.


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