How a Diversity Scorecard Helps Salesforce Keep Equality Top of Mind for Its Leaders

October 28, 2019

Salesforce is best known for its ubiquitous customer relationship management (CRM) platform. But, increasingly, it’s making a name for itself as a leader on diversity issues — it has spent millions to close gender and racial pay gaps and taken frontline stands on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.

But, like much of the tech world, Salesforce has also struggled to achieve diversity in its workforce, which is heavily male (68.2%) and, in the United States, heavily white (63.2%).

Three years ago, the company hired veteran tech executive Tony Prophet to be its chief equality officer. Tony has helped drive many key initiatives, including asking company leaders to:

  1. Become an executive sponsor of one of the company’s employee resource groups (Salesforce now has 12) and support their employees who are in an ERG.
  2. Mentor someone who doesn’t look like themselves.
  3. Pay attention to the diversity scorecards they’re going to be receiving.

“We do equality,” says Molly Ford, the senior director of global equality programs at Salesforce, “not only because it’s the right thing and it’s a core value, but because it’s a business imperative. And with the scorecards, we’re using data to speak to executives in a language they’re used to.”

Every month, Salesforce leaders who have more than 500 reports — or who have a “large ability” to hire — receive a diversity scorecard from the Office of Equality that tells them:

  1. The number and percentage of women and underrepresented minorities (black, Latinx or Hispanic, American Indian/Native Alaskan, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and multiracial) in their organization
  2. The number of women and underrepresented minorities who were hired into their organization in the previous month
  3. The numbers of each who were promoted
  4. The numbers of each who left the company

A diversity scorecard keeps the focus on D&I year-round

Molly calls the monthly scorecards “an early-warning system.”

“A leader can’t say, ‘Wow, I didn’t promote a woman last year,’ right?” Molly notes. “You have the data in front of you.”

Quarterly scorecards are also created, and those are shared with senior leaders in an operations review staff meeting. “I want to give my executives,” Molly says, “the same rigor that they’re looking at their pipeline or their sales numbers, the same rigor that they’re looking at their people analytics data and dashboard.”

Is the scorecard driving change?  The numbers are slowly — Salesforce has more than 35,000 employees — moving in the desired direction, with the growth of women and underrepresented minorities outpacing overall growth.

In 2018, the percentage of women at Salesforce grew from 30.9% to 31.6%; the percentage of employees from underrepresented minority groups grew from 9.45% to 10.19%. (Salesforce posts its diversity metrics on its equality website each December.)

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Related: 50+ Ideas for Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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The scorecard is part of a broader effort to keep the focus on diversity and inclusion year-round and across the company. Molly says, for example, that this has infused the way Salesforce does workforce planning and shaped the questions it explores when choosing its sites. “What schools will we be near?” Molly says. “What are our opportunities to volunteer and get into the community?”

Leaders at most companies know that diverse teams give them a better chance of winning. And they also know the business cliché that what gets measured is what gets done. “If you’re not measuring it,” Molly asks, “and you’re not looking at the number, how do you know if you’re doing well or not?”

Salesforce is just starting to tap the potential of its scorecard

Molly says she expects the scorecard to change. “We’re wondering, ‘Are there different ways to slice the data?’” she says. “Should we be looking at job level? Should we be looking at location?”

As the company offers opportunities for employees to self-identify for gender and gender pronouns, sexuality, disabilities, and military backgrounds, other measures may get captured.

Surprisingly, Salesforce may be swimming upstream by investing in a diversity scorecard and thinking of ways to expand it. According to LinkedIn’s upcoming report on the Future of Recruiting, a survey of more than 2,800 recruiting professionals found that only 34% of them currently use any diversity metrics and only 56% said they thought diversity metrics would be “very helpful” to them in the next five years.

Which is scary. A vast majority of HR leaders see diversity as critical to improving culture and boosting financial performance. Research shows more diverse companies are more productive, innovative, and engaged than less diverse companies. And a study released in September by a team at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that investors respond positively when companies share gender diversity numbers that are better than average, especially if they beat the industry leader. But a company can’t make that kind of announcement without tracking diversity metrics.

In 2017, the year the Salesforce scorecard was introduced, Tony Prophet wrote on the company website: “We have found that [the scorecard] helps our leadership keep Equality top of mind.”

Right where it belongs. 

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