Marc Benioff tackles the “third rail,” gender disparity in pay at Salesforce

Marc Benioff is the latest tech CEO to tackle the issue of the pay disparity between men and women at his company.

He told the Huffington Post that he is doing a review of salaries of all 16,000 Salesforce’s employees – 29 percent of whom are women – and giving women raises when he finds they are making less than male colleagues.

The process, which he expects to take a couple of years, has already resulted in pay raises for some, he said.

He told the HuffPo he didn’t know the company’s gender pay gap. Talking about pay is “the third rail,” he said, adding:

My job is to make sure that women are treated 100 percent equally at Salesforce in pay, opportunity and advancement. When I’m done there will be no gap.

Ellen Pao, interim CEO at Reddit, recently banned negotiations as part of the recruiting and hiring process to help erase the pay gap between men and women employees, as the Wall Street Journal reported. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella conducted a review of men and women’s salaries, and announced he had found no more than a 0.5 percent pay gender gap with jobs of the same title, as CNET reported.

Benioff’s salary review is part of a broader initiative at the San Francisco company called “Women’s Surge,” launched in 2013, which includes requiring that women make up at least 30 percent of attendees at meetings and are better represented among speakers at the firm’s big annual event, Dreamforce.

Is it working? Hard to say. When it comes to the leadership ranks at Salesforce, men made up 85 percent, as of June 2014.

Above: Marc Benioff, chief executive, at Salesforce at a 2013 event.  (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Jay Kilian

    Is it working? At least they are doing something proactive about it. This company takes a stand on social issues and takes action, it’s not just an HR or publicity stunt.

  • JunJun Pao

    I hope you guys at the Merc keep tabs on this. I wonder if the raises do happen and how quickly. Also, if it’s possible, publish the rate of the raises and compare this to males who work at salesforce. Keep up the good work!

  • Jefferson Paine

    As gender is the determinant of pay, I guess Salesforce will no longer provide merit pay increases to men because if they do, then by this precedent, they’ll have to give all women in the same pay grade the raise as well.