This is the woman that convinced Marc Benioff to guarantee equal pay for women at Salesforce

Advertisement Leyla Seka

Leyla Seka, Leyla Seka, a senior vice president Salesforce

It turns out that there's a reason why Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff just publicly said he's examining the pay of all 16,000 of his employees to make sure that women and men are paid 100% equally.


Two of his top ranking women executives asked him to do it.

He publicly thanked one of them in particular by name, Leyla Seka, senior vice president and GM of the business unit, saying in a tweet that she "inspired" him.

"I was actually one of the first people in the '[Women] Surge' when Marc started that program focusing on finding high-potential women in the organization," she said.

Cindy Robbins, Salesforce head of HR


Cindy Robbins, Salesforce head of HR

So was Cindy Robbins, who was made head of HR about 8 months ago after working her way up from a rank-and-file HR position in 2006. (Salesforce's former HR person, Monika Fahlbusch, moved to BMC Software about five months ago).


The "Woman Surge" program came about after Benioff read Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In," he has said. It involves mandates to make sure that women are being considered for open positions and never subtly pushed out once hired, such as mandating that all meetings include at least 30% women.

Seka and Robbins were talking about how to take "the 'Surge' idea to the next level and decided to work on the pay-gap issue.

Women make, on average, 78 percent of men's earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2014, women with advanced degrees earned only 73 percent of men's earnings with the same education.

Marc Benioff

Business Insider/Julie Bort CEO Marc Benioff

"Cindy and I went to Marc. We asked him, we wanted to go look at this. He thought it was a really interesting idea. That's where we are right now, beginning the process. We don't know if we have a problem but we're going to find out and if we do, we're going to fix it. When Marc does something like this, it makes it hard to hide," she laughs. "Now the industry will need to answer this."

Benioff told Emily Peck at the Huffington Post that he's already given some women raises and expects to give out more.


Don't be surprised if one day this turns into either another Salesforce human resources product, or another Salesforce charity program, or both.

The team is using its own new analytics tool, Wave, to examine the salary data and to discover what the influencers on pay are, she told us. This may eventually become a model that could be useful to others.

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