Salesforce hires its first chief ethical and humane use officer following Benioff's criticism of Facebook

  • Salesforce said Paula Goldman will head the company's new Office of Ethical and Humane Use.
  • Goldman will report to Tony Prophet, Salesforce's chief equality officer.
  • The announcement comes a month after Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff compared Facebook to cigarettes.
Marc Benioff, CEO of SalesForce at DreamForce in San Francisco on Sept. 25th, 2018.
CNBC
Marc Benioff, CEO of SalesForce at DreamForce in San Francisco on Sept. 25th, 2018.

As Google and Facebook reckon with a barrage of privacy issues and technology workers start demanding more transparency from their employers, Salesforce has just announced the hire of its first chief ethical and humane use officer.

Salesforce said on Monday that Paula Goldman is joining the company from Omidyar Network, the investment firm created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. She starts on Jan. 7, and will report to Tony Prophet, Salesforce's chief equality officer, who came from Microsoft in 2016. Her job is to "develop a strategic framework for the ethical and humane use of technology across Salesforce," the company said in a press release.

It's Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff's latest effort to tackle head-on some of the pressing issues facing technology companies as they become a bigger piece of the global economy and their products get used in ways that are unpredictable and sometimes dangerous. Benioff recently compared Facebook to cigarettes calling it "addictive" and "not good for you."

"We're at an important inflection point as an industry, and I'm excited to work with this team to chart a path forward," Goldman said in Salesforce's statement on Monday.

While Benioff has been critical of other technology companies and has called for increased government regulation in certain areas, his company has faced some challenges of its own. More than 650 Salesforce employees signed a petition in June to Benioff over the software company's contracts with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Three months before that, Salesforce put out a press release announcing that the CPB is using Salesforce analytics and cloud products "to modernize its recruiting process, from hire to retire, and manage border activities and digital engagement with citizens."

Protesters gathered at Salesforce's massive Dreamforce conference in September, claiming that the company was complicit in the government's immigration policy, including the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Google and Microsoft have also faced internal dissent regarding bids for a contract with the Pentagon, particularly in regard to how their artificial intelligence technology would be used to aid in warfare.

Benioff has inserted in voice into other hot-button social and political debates of late. Ahead of the mid-term elections last month, he supported a measure that would force tech companies in San Francisco to pay a hefty tax that would go toward helping the city's homeless population, putting him at odds with other tech leaders like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

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