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Salesforce Has a Chief Philanthropy Officer (and you should too!)

Luxury Business Mogul

The Pledge 1% program was initiated to give companies an opportunity to contribute at least 1% of their equity, product or time to the purpose of charity on an annual basis. The program was introduced about 2 years ago and has over 1,300 companies from all over the world as members. Some of them include Pure Storage, Twillio and Atlassian.

According to Suzanne DiBianca, co-founder and former president, the Salesforce Foundation, the initiative was developed and messaged in this particular way because nearly every organization owns these assets i.e. equity, time and product/service. DiBianca was at the forefront and leading this concept when it started off.

DiBianca as the Salesforce Chief Philanthropy Officer

DiBianca earned herself a new title and managerial position in April 2016 in Salesforce. She is now the executive vice president for corporate relations and the chief philanthropy officer of the company. Her vision is to correct a basic problem in the way corporate philanthropy works: it is the market that determines the amount donated by a business organization. DiBianca says that conventional philanthropy receives its funding from the earnings shown in the quarterly results. This technique of calculation is hugely flawed and that philanthropy should not be dependent on the economic climate or the company performance.

Salesforce is one of the most innovative companies in the world offering an excellent CRM solution. It has a cloud-based software system; hence there is no need for an IT team to install or manage the same. The customer can simply log in and begin using the system.

One of the major goals of DiBiance as CPO of Salesforce is to develop a broader umbrella structure that allows the analysis of company efforts across various divisions and how it can help bring about widespread social change. In the last one year, the company has not only worked on offering equal remuneration to women but also undertaken large scale auditing of company books. This has helped in making a 3 million dollar correction with regards to internal discrepancies.

Changing Traditional Philanthropy at Salesforce

The fundamental charitable contract at Salesforce was put into action in 2000. It is referred to as the ‘1-1-1 model’ since it simultaneously takes into account all the Pledge 1% categories. The agreement has transformed itself into a massive operation in the last 15 years and offers highly discounted or free services to nearly 30,000 educational and nonprofit organizations. At the same time, it also donates a staggering $137 million to two separate causes which are aimed at improving opportunities associated with the industry it works in.

At Salesforce, the aim is to change the idea of traditional philanthropy. It shouldn’t be treated as a ‘side project’ by workers. CEO Marc Benoiff says that these aren’t his independent decisions, rather they have been taken by the employees and he is merely advocating them. He says that as far as workplace happiness and reaching out to a broader customer base is concerned; being anti-LGBT can easily go against the business.

Salesforce is taking multiple steps towards promoting equality and this includes an effort to diversify its internal workforce and offer training to underserved future staff. VetForce is a unique training group that is active in hiring and training disabled people from different backgrounds.

According to DiBianca, social equality isn’t merely about creating a work environment that is pro LGBT. It also includes encouraging business leaders to play a role and stand up against bills that lead to the implementation of discriminatory policies in North Carolina, Georgia and Indiana.

The charitable agreement of Salesforce has helped educational groups like CoderDojo and Black Girls Code as well as workforce development companies like Genesys Works and YearUp. A total of 1.8 million hours has been invested by employees during the week termed as “volunteer time off” each year. This time is spent on various kinds of activities such as building health clinics and schools and providing coaching to little league.

As far as helping nonprofits such as YearUp is concerned, Salesforce not only provides the necessary funding but also employees approximately 170 students from the program per year. Around 70 percent of these students eventually work as permanent employees at Salesforce. YearUp is basically an organization that invests time and effort working with young people who are not particularly aiming for a college education.

DiBianca also has a plan for the environment under her huge umbrella. This involves converting Salesforce into a 100 percent renewable-energy firm. About 40 percent progress has already been made in this area. DiBianca says that this vision is being brought to life with the help of two American wind farms.

So what has been the biggest achievement for Suzanne DiBianca? The Salesforce CPO has managed to set the right goals and to ensure that there is enough time and planning for achieving these goals. She believes that philanthropy doesn’t need to be a brand new program. A company simply needs to alter its perspective on business. As far as Pledge 1% is concerned, she is hopeful that other firms will also acknowledge the long-term benefits of such a program and follow in their footsteps.

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