Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff blasts Apple for not showcasing more women on stage


Angela Ahrendts

Screenshot, Fashion Video

Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts, who was not part of the last big Apple event.

The whole tech industry is a bit like an awkward geek-boy stereotype. It doesn't do well with women.


On Thursday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told a room full of IT professionals, mostly women, that the only way the tech industry is going to change is if it becomes a major mandate of every tech CEO.

Salesforce is itself making some unprecedented commitments, from mandating every meeting includes at least 30% women to examining the pay of all 16,000+ employees to ensure 100% equal pay.

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Plus, Salesforce makes sure all of its corporate events showcase plenty of women on stage, especially women engineers.

And Benioff is willing to talk publicly about all of it, and to call out other big tech companies.


On Thursday, he chided Apple for its paltry three women on stage during its annual new-product event, two of whom didn't even work at Apple. That's compared to 24 men. Apple even chose two men to demo how a pregnant woman can use the Apple Watch.

"When you looked at Apple keynote last week it's an example. They have great women at Apple like Angela Ahrendts, where is she?" he asked. "We know that Apple has great female executives. Why are they not onstage?"

Salesforce showcased three women, too, in its first keynote, but two of them were senior executives with engineering backgrounds, and one was running a medical research non-profit. Plus Salesforce is doing a whole Women Leadership series at the show including a big keynote featuring YouTube leader Susan Wojcicki and The Honest Company's Jessica Alba.

However, Salesforce is still behind the eight ball, as is the whole tech industry. It employs 30% women, 23% women in engineering and 19% women senior leaders.

And Benioff is equally hard on himself over it. He says that not setting up his company to hire plenty of women from the beginning, and pay them equally, was a "huge mistake. We didn't take on any [women in tech] goal when we started. That was wrong."


On average tech companies' workforces are made up of 30% women. But in the career-making technical jobs, that stat is typically more like 15%. And it drops to somewhere around 1% for senior executive leadership.

To fix it at a large company requires the CEO down to take it on as a major, "transformational" goal "and for the CEO to "make it personal," Benioff explained.

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