12 June 2018 - Meeting Tony Prophet
Let me tell you more about Tony. About a week before the World Tour a few of us received a special invite to have coffee with Tony Prophet, the Chief Equality Officer of Salesforce. Tony would like to meet some Women In Tech to understand our perspective of working in the industry.
What an honour, how could any of us refuse such a request. We were delighted.
So, 08.00 on World Tour morning a small group gathered to meet Tony. We were invited into a briefing room and waited. Shortly afterwards Tony appeared and sat with us.
Tony has been with Salesforce for nearly 2 years. I remember first seeing him at a special session for MVPs and User Group Leaders hosted by Marc Benioff on the last day of Dreamforce 2016. Marc had put together a Q&A for us to ask anything and had his senior team in situ should he need support on any answers. The session was quite emotional and many questions weren’t the usual product related ones but more about the human in society. This may have been fuelled by the election campaign running at the time which later saw Trump get into power. Some of the subjects that came up were about Black Lives Matter, Women in Tech and how Minority’s can be better positioned in their careers.
Marc introduced Tony as the Chief Equality Officer, a new role for the business. It suddenly became clear that there was work to do in society and Salesforce was prepared to do something about it. Tony’s role was their first big push to take this forward stance.
Speaking with Tony at our meeting he admitted that he was surprised and delighted to get this role at such a late stage of his own career but from what I’ve already seen on Twitter and from our time over coffee I can see he’s the perfect role model for this job.
He made time for us, he listened, his presence was calming, open and caring. He wanted to learn our perspectives and help somehow. And I can see how his position can enable others to improve theirs.
On Twitter he has promoted many causes to enrich equality around the world. Actively highlighting Salesforce as a supportive business for many causes such as Gay Pride, Veterans, the environment and Women in Tech.
Meanwhile back at our coffee, Tony patiently listened to our conversation about how us women and one male ally described our industry experiences.
Salesforce always thanks it’s customers so it was a great opportunity to thank Tony. I think his role is enabling so many of us to be able to think differently, to challenge the status quo and make movements for our own equality.
I personally don’t come from a Computer Science background. I stumbled into IT by chance when I selected Salesforce for the Business Development Team I worked in and from that moment, 11 years ago, became hooked. Salesforce as a platform transformed my skill set. Salesforce as a company transformed my career path. I’m grateful for that. I’m inspired by that. I encourage others to come on this journey with me because there are multiple benefits to be gained.
But we can see there are still much to do in this field. Just a day previous to the World Tour the Salesforce partner forum gathered. What was evident from an innocent selfie was a sea of middle aged white males in the room. We knew females and minorities were present but only slightly scattered in the crowd. The majority of the senior roles are still owned by white men. That’s not going to change overnight. It needs a seismic shift for this to happen and for businesses to make positive discrimination choices to promote individuals into these roles. In addition, by enabling a more flexible working environment, lifestyle and acknowledging a broader range of skill sets and educational backgrounds then these factors will assist true equality.
It’s the likes of Salesforce, and Tony’s role, that we can look to, to help show us the way forward and challenge these norms.