8 January 2024

Lori Castillo Martinez from Salesforce: The Future of Work and the Opportunity to Embrace DEI

By Ronald Smith

Hello there! I’m Lori Castillo Martinez from Salesforce, and today I want to share with you my thoughts on the future of work and how it presents a great opportunity to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) right at the heart of businesses like ours.

The world is changing rapidly, and so is the way we work. It’s fascinating to think about all the possibilities that lie ahead. What does the future of work mean to you? Well, for me, it’s a chance to create a more inclusive, diverse, and fair workplace for everyone.

Imagine a world where people from all walks of life come together, bringing their unique experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives to the table. This is the true essence of diversity. It’s about celebrating our differences and recognizing that each individual has something valuable to contribute.

Now, let’s talk about equity. It’s not just about treating everyone the same. It’s about acknowledging that different people have different needs and challenges. It’s about leveling the playing field and ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Lastly, inclusion is key. It’s not enough to have diverse individuals in the workplace; we need to create an environment where they feel welcome, valued, and empowered. We must foster a sense of belonging for every team member, allowing them to thrive and reach their full potential.

So, why is this important? Well, when we embrace DEI, we unlock a world of possibilities. We foster innovation and creativity by bringing together a diverse set of minds. We build strong, resilient teams that can adapt to any challenge. And most importantly, we create a more just and fair society where everyone, regardless of their background, can thrive.

At Salesforce, we believe that the future of work is not just a fancy concept; it’s a call to action. We are committed to integrating DEI into the very core of our business. This means promoting diversity at all levels, providing equal opportunities for everyone, and creating an inclusive culture where every voice is heard and respected.

So, as we navigate the path towards the future of work, let’s seize this incredible opportunity to embrace DEI. Together, we can create workplaces that are truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The power to shape the future is in our hands!

Lori Castillo Martinez from Salesforce: The Future of Work and the Opportunity to Embrace DEI

I’m excited to let you know that next week, Salesforce’s exciting industry event, Dreamforce, is making a grand return! It’s been a long wait since the pandemic, but we’re finally ready to gather together once again. This year is extra special because we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the very first Dreamforce. And guess what? They’re expecting a whopping 150,000 people to join in the festivities in beautiful San Francisco. Can you believe it? It’s not too far off from the incredible turnout we had back in 2019.

As I prepare to head out west for Dreamforce, I had the privilege of chatting with Lori Castillo-Martinez, Salesforce’s Chief Equality Officer. Let me tell you, Salesforce has been a true trailblazer when it comes to championing diversity, equality, and inclusion. They’ve taken on several initiatives inspired by the tragic murder of George Floyd. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Craig Cuffie, the previous Chief Procurement Officer at Salesforce, about the company’s efforts to boost the representation of underrepresented minorities in employment, leadership roles, supplier participation, and venture capital investment. And now, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lori to talk about Salesforce’s ongoing commitment to these endeavors. She shared some fascinating insights about how future work is not just influenced by virtual technologies, but also by integrating diversity, equality, and inclusion deeper into the company’s core values and how they measure success.

I wanted to share a conversation I had recently about a really interesting topic – diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) and how it relates to the future of work. It’s something I hadn’t thought about in quite the same way before.

We were discussing the importance of being an inclusive company, and how having a big, ambitious goal is crucial. It can sometimes feel like we’re taking steps forward and then steps back, but we can’t lose sight of where we’re going. We have to keep our focus on the future.

The Future of Work: DEI and WFH

I have to adapt to the direction in which the future of work is heading. To truly accomplish this, I need to ensure that as I break down and redesign my processes, I consider what inclusion will look like in the future as opposed to what it looked like in the traditional office setting.

I need to prioritize equality above all else. This is something I need to think about starting from the hiring process all the way through the employee experience. I need to consider what this means for my hiring process. If I have employees working remotely, I need to find ways to stay connected no matter where we are, so that we can be successful regardless of our location.

When we think about it in reality, we wonder about those connections. How can we keep our culture alive? What strategies can we use? And I think it all starts with equality. But most people ask me, okay, that sounds good, but what do you mean?

For me, it’s really about hiring and experience. How can we attract people to come and work in our company? How can we ensure that we practice what we preach? And when it comes to experience, it’s not just about getting you in the door, we want you to stay.

I want to understand where the obstacles are in our data. How can we think about the things that prevent people from joining? What challenges are we facing? Oh my, society is so overwhelming. I can’t even believe it’s been months. It feels like years. So how can we make sure we’re considering what’s happening outside?

How can we train our managers to be understanding and supportive? How can we ensure that we’re being careful about opportunities? How can we make sure that managers have the new skills and qualities we’re asking them to have in order to manage differently? And then, how can we make sure we’re still listening closely to our employees?

And it can be anything, like how do we connect intentionally in our offices, or how do we make sure we’re still including everyone, even if some are on a Zoom call while others are in the office or in different time zones around the world. All of these things together are what we need to consider when thinking about equality and inclusion in the future of work.

The Future of Work: Creating More Opportunities for Black and Brown People in Tech

Brent Leary: How do you see the future of work impacting entry-level positions as well as opportunities for leadership? Are there different paths for these two?

Lori Castillo Martinez: So, here’s what I think. And I could be wrong, but hear me out. It all comes down to experience and being intentional about our careers. A couple of years ago, we came up with this awesome program called The Warm Line. It’s an advocacy and belonging program that’s specifically focused on our black, Latinx, indigenous, multi-race, and LGBTQ+ communities, including women of all races. It was a real eye-opener because it helped us understand the barriers people were facing and why they were leaving our organization. And let me tell you, one thing that kept popping up was the issue of career.

So, I’m thinking, how do I figure out the way forward? How do I find people who can support and guide me? You see, there’s a difference between having a mentor who helps me with a few things and having a sponsor. Who’s a sponsor, you ask? Well, that’s the person who talks about me and looks out for opportunities even when I’m not around. That’s the person who actively seeks me out. As we received feedback on this, we realized we needed to deliberately focus on these types of programs.

Now, here’s the question – how do you train leaders to be sponsors? And how do you teach employees to have conversations about their career goals and be clear about what they want to achieve? Because what we’ve come to understand is that there’s responsibility on both sides.

Empowering Leaders to Lead in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Lori Castillo Martinez: Let’s shift gears for a moment and discuss how we effectively collaborate with our leaders. Are our networks diverse on both the inside and outside? We each bring our own unique life experiences and connections to the table. In the world of technology, the networks we’ve built might not always be diverse.

So, how can we purposefully expand our networks externally? By doing so, we can ensure that when important opportunities arise, we are aware of the influential figures within the industry. Additionally, internally, we need to consider everything from cultivating a variety of talent to creating fair and balanced candidate pools. This is a topic that has recently become a major focus for us.

When it comes to diversity, it’s not enough to just have one person from an underrepresented group. We now know, based on many studies, that true diversity means having a proportional representation of different backgrounds and identities. To achieve this, we need to be intentional in our sourcing and make sure we have a wide pool of diverse talent.

That’s why it’s important for recruiting teams to step up their game. Our recruiting team, which is considered the best in the industry, has undergone a complete transformation with 22 different initiatives. We’ve focused on both external and internal career opportunities, so that we’re always ready with a diverse range of talented individuals when our leaders need to hire.

This approach is a crucial part of how we think about careers. It’s about creating an environment where diversity and inclusivity are not afterthoughts, but integral considerations from the start.

Intentionality is key for both parties

Lori Castillo Martinez: You know what? I think there’s something important that we sometimes forget. We wait around for some big event to come along, thinking that’s what’s gonna bring progress and success. But let me tell you, my dear friends in the middle of it all (the managers, senior managers, directors, and senior directors), you all have the power to make a difference and bring more diversity to your teams. Take a good look around you. If your team lacks diversity, go out there and find it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the resources within your organization. I guarantee there’s someone who knows where to find the talent you need. So go out, find it, and connect with it, because I can’t do it alone in my position.

Hey Brent, I gotta tell you, this is gonna change everything. I mean, seriously, every hiring manager from every organization, they gotta start making different choices when it comes to hiring and promoting. This is gonna shake up the whole structure of our organizations.

Breaking the mold

Brent Leary: You guys have been at this for years and your revenue just keeps going up. The business is thriving because of the steps you’ve taken. Is there a connection there? Do you think the business is in a better place because of what you’ve done, even with the traditional financial perspective? ‘Cause it seems like companies have always seen DEI as a cost rather than a key part of the business.

Lori Castillo Martinez: That’s a great question. A lot of people are drawn to working at Salesforce because of our values. We believe in things like equality, sustainability, innovation, and customer success. But our most important value is trust. When we think about why people choose to work here, a big part of it is because they align with our values.

I think what’s really important is how we integrate those values into our day-to-day work. They shouldn’t be separate from what we do, like you mentioned. It’s not just about what we do, but how we do it. I recently had a conversation with someone who asked, Don’t you focus on things like inclusive language trainings and other initiatives?

Making DEI part of our business success

This is a chance for us to show that we care not only about our profits, but also about how we are represented. It’s a part of our company goals. When you compare the two, you’re setting a strong example that both are equally important.

Not just one person’s problem to solve

Lori Castillo Martinez: You know, I believe that’s where everything begins. It’s in that spot that isn’t as glamorous, where you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. It’s about having conversations with managers and employees, one by one, in that middle area that’s a bit messy. That’s where the magic happens, where you can truly make a difference. It’s not about finding one quick fix. It’s actually a combination of many different things coming together. I think you have to challenge yourself to find joy in those small victories, because they start to build your confidence and momentum. And that’s my hope for other companies – that they can learn from our experience and understand the value of those small wins. They really have made a positive impact on our business.

When I think about it, I realize that solving this problem isn’t just up to one person. It’s up to all of us to make a conscious and deliberate effort every day. It starts with how we choose to hire and how we create an environment where our employees feel valued and included. These two things have a tremendous impact. And as you mentioned, they are essential for adding value to our organization. It’s challenging to foster inclusivity when we lack diversity. Having a diverse representation allows us to learn from each other and be curious about different life experiences.

That’s the real power of this work. It’s when we begin to see incredible results for our business because we approach problem-solving through the lens of various perspectives. We avoid narrow thinking and open ourselves up to the vast possibilities of the world. And that, quite honestly, is where the true power lies.