Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff takes stand against Indiana anti-gay law

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I normally shy away from talking about work, but with the recent announcement by our CEO to reduce Salesforce’s presence in Indiana in the face of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act – that’s worth calling out.

No matter if you’re screaming “RIGHT ON, BENIOFF!” or if you don’t think it’s not enough, there’s no doubting that there’s significant courage in what Marc Benioff has done – a lot more than many actually fully realize.

As the CEO of a publicly-traded company, taking a political stand on a hot-button issue isn’t easy to say the least. It’s easy to take a stand when you don’t have to answer to your Board of Directors, employees and shareholders that may differ in their opinion. With all that on his shoulders, he decided he wanted to be on the right side of history.

On top of that, it’s not as if Benioff wasn’t aware that this was happening — the married-to-a-woman Benioff announced his opposition to the law before the ink even dried on the law signed by Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence.

Then again, Benioff has never shied away from taking a stand and putting his money where his mouth is. As a result of the new law masking as “religious freedom”, Benioff posted on his Facebook profile:

“We are forced to dramatically reduce our investment in Indiana based on our employee’s & customer’s outrage over the Religious Freedom Bill.”

Salesforce stands up for LGBT gay rights

And Benioff didn’t stop there. In an interview with Re/Code a couple days later, the CEO of Salesforce promised more “economic sanctions” if the law isn’t repealed.

Since Benioff took his stand, many other leaders and celebrities have followed in their denouncement of the law.

We are not alone in opposing this law. For example, Indiana-based companies Eli Lilly & Company and Cummins Engine oppose the law, and the Indy Chamber of Commerce has as well. We have seen support from Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and HVC CEO Max Levchin. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee barred travel to Indiana that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety for city employees. As the college basketball tournament heads to Indianapolis for its annual finale, NCAA president Mark Emmert said that they will “closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.” This is just the beginning of rolling economic sanctions against Indiana provoked by this discriminatory law.

Not just that, but denouncements and negative reactions to the law have been put out by Miley Cyrus, Hilary Clinton, Apple CEO Tim Cook, George Takei, Ashton Kutcher, the organizers of Gen Con and a series of other Indiana technology CEOs.

I’ve always been appreciative and proud to work for Salesforce. It’s a company that just doesn’t talk about “culture” and taking care of employees, they do a hell of a job following through. Not only that, our 1:1:1 integrated philanthropy allows each and every employee to take six paid days off to volunteer every year.

Now this stand against discrimination. It’s just another reason or many I love working for Salesforce.

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