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Salesforce CEO: Using the power of business for social change

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff just proved that advocating for social change doesn't necessarily get in the way of business. The company just reported what Jim Cramer described as "the best tech quarter of the year."

Benioff has become a leader among CEOs by pushing for social activism on such issues as gay rights and has encouraged other companies' executives to speak out as well.

"CEOs are responsible for all of their stakeholders. And we have to shift from being just shareholder based to stakeholder based. That is really what I am an advocate of," Benioff said. (Tweet This)





Marc Benioff
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Marc Benioff

Benioff's stakeholder approach encourages execs to take into consideration customers, employees, shareholders, members of the community and those who are underserved.

"I think that every CEO has to start to stand up and speak on behalf of their stakeholders," he added. (Tweet This)

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Benioff openly opposed a bill in North Carolina that was passed in March, which took down the provision that allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with. He was also joined in opposition by Bank of America, and even Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump, he actually came out in favor of what we said in North Carolina, which was that that law is a bad idea and that governor needs to make a change now," Benioff said.

The CEO partly attributed Salesforce's rapid growth rate to doing what is right for customers. He intends to continue being a leader in both technology and social issues.

Benioff also fought against a bill in Indiana that was ultimately changed, which would have allowed faith-based organizations to refuse service to the LGBT community in the name of religious freedom. He also helped to push Georgia's governor into vetoing a state bill that would have allowed faith-based organizations to decline services or fire employees over religious beliefs.

In Benioff's perspective, states that discriminate against LGBT employees and customers impact the ability to hire, invest, have conferences and bring people from out of state into that state. Thus, it will require Salesforce to reduce its investment in that state.

"We are on the right side of history here, and we are just trying to do what's right for our customers and our employees," he said.

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