Salesforce investors reject call for investigation into claims the company is toxic for non-white workers

A man walking into a building next to a sign that says "Welcome Salesforce Employees"

Salesforce investors have rejected a shareholder proposal that called for an independent racial equity audit analysing what effect the company's internal policies have on civil rights, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Retail activist investment platform Tulipshare put forward the proposal after two Black women in prominent positions resigned from the company in 2021, citing a toxic work environment and disingenuous marketing around equality.

The workers also described “rampant microaggressions and gaslighting” and a “big gap from how Salesforce portrays itself and the lived experience” of working for the company.

The company has committed to having 50% of its workforce from underrepresented groups by 2023. However, on its current trajectory, it would take Salesforce 12 years to reach its goal, according to shareholders, and that two in five current employees are White.

Since 2015, the company has only increased its percentage of Hispanic employees by 1.1%, and of Black employees by 2.3%.

In the proposal, Tulipshare claimed that by categorising Women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Multiracial, LGBTQ+ employees, People with Disabilities, and Veterans together to form the company’s definition of underrepresented groups, Salesforce can continue to mask its legacy on race.

“Whilst we are disappointed that our proposal did not pass today, this vote was just the beginning in the fight for racial equity in tech,” said Antoine Argouges, Tulipshare CEO and founder. “Polling we conducted for this campaign found that someone is more than twice as likely to experience racism if they work in tech.

"Tech companies need to urgently address racism and microaggressions in the workplace – and shareholders must realise their potential to influence racial equity in society.”

Salesforce hasn’t disclosed the full outcome of the vote yet, but Argouges said that once the results are published, Tulipshare will consider its options for continuing the fight for racial equity at the company.

IT Pro has contacted Salesforce for comment.

The cloud-based software company isn’t the only tech organisation that has faced scrutiny over its diversity policies. LinkedIn decided to settle with the US Department of Labor (DoL) in May over allegations it had carried out systemic, gender-based pay discrimination.

The DoL announced the settlement on behalf of 686 female workers in California. Under the terms of the agreement, LinkedIn was set to pay $1.8 million in back wages and interest to the affected workers.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.