The Salesforce Equality Awards: Blazing a Trail to a More Equitable World
This post is a contribution by Daniel Peter, a Salesforce MVP and organizer of the Bay Area Salesforce Developer Group. He is a Lead Applications Engineer at Kenandy, a Salesforce Application Innovation Partner.
Inequity is an old, widespread, and complex problem.
For certain we’ve made progress towards a more equitable society, but people are still treated unequally based on their race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities and other facets of who they are. We still have a long way to go.
What can any one person do to improve the situation?
The Chairman and CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff has said “For each person, we have to decide what we want to do individually to create equality.” Salesforce decided to hold its first ever Equality Awards on April 4, the evening before Equal Pay Day in the United States. In the spirit of individual contribution, I attended the event to show my support. This required me to secure last minute travel arrangements and make red-eye flights across the country and back. Even though there was a Salesforce World tour the next day, my reason for travel was to attend the Equality Awards.
I made the journey specifically for the Equality Awards. I felt this was one small action I could do to help promote more equality.
The event took place at National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., which was electrified with the positive energy of people who believe in making the world a better place. Attending the Equality Awards gave me the chance to listen to Lilly Ledbetter, Billie Jean King, Patricia Arquette and Mary J. Blige as they delivered powerful and inspiring messages about their personal battles for equality. These women were brave enough to take a stand to improve the world for others, and I felt honored to be a part of a ceremony celebrating their journies.
I hope my decision to attend the awards event conveys that I want to be a positive force as an Equality Trailblazer. This matters. Within my immediate social circles, I am actively demonstrating that nothing bad happened to me from stepping out of my comfort zone for doing something good – in fact, quite the opposite! In other social circles, I’m making myself more available to do more good with my time in the future.
I am a member of a race and gender group that isn’t typically discriminated against. In fact, my race and gender group benefits from many subtle privileges. This doesn’t mean I have had things given to me. I have had to work extremely hard for my achievements, quite possibly harder than an average person of my demographic.
For me however, scaling the mountain of life has always been an endeavor between me and the mountain. I haven’t had to face locked gates, falsified maps, or had people pushing me off the mountain along the way. This is the way it should be for everyone.
The World Economic Forum says it could take 170 years to close the gender pay gap at the current rate. This is far too slow. The same organizations which are responsible for the state of inequality are also efficient mechanisms for making headway in correcting it. Businesses have the power – and in my opinion – the responsibility to make the world a better place. If decisions are made at the top, and actions are carried out, we can move towards equality at a faster pace. If organizations can work collectively towards equality, this will also influence society to build momentum as well. Work is a huge part of our lives. Work is where we spend much of your time, it is what provides for us, it is where we collaborate and exercise our skills to achieving great things.
If our work environment emphasizes a culture of equality, and takes actions to demonstrate its commitment to equality, it is one big leap towards realizing this in the greater society.
In honor of inspiring women at work, tonight in San Francisco, the Bay Area Salesforce Developer User Group is hosting “Women in Technology” featuring Sandy Kurtzig, founder of Kenandy & Leyla Seka, EVP of the AppExchange at Salesforce where we will learn about Leyla and Sandy’s stories and foster a dialogue about women’s leadership.
Make equality a priority.
While we are all busy, this may seem like an easy excuse to ignore these issues. Make equality a priority and do something, no matter how small. It will help. Doing nothing allows these problems to perpetuate. If you aren’t doing anything to help, think of something you are capable of doing while you are reading this. Have you made your individual choice to improve the world?