Cecily Ng, Area Vice President for Enterprise Sales, Asia, Salesforce
To put it simply, companies with greater diversity – in terms of both gender and ethnicity – were more likely to outperform their counterparts with more homogeneous workforces.
What challenges do women face in tech today?
The technology sector has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, and it’s always more challenging when you’re in the minority. For instance, I have to engage frequently with customers, and sometimes I end up being the only woman at the table. Women also often face difficult decisions that men don’t usually have to deal with, like having to choose between starting a family – thus disrupting their career trajectory – and continuing with their career. Then there’s the worry of whether they can pick up from where they left off when they return to their jobs, or if the break will have proven too disruptive.
What steps has Salesforce taken for a more diverse and inclusive workplace?
For starters, Salesforce recognizes that diversity – or the lack of it – is an issue, and is taking active steps to promote it. One of the most important things we’ve done is to enforce transparency, and the composition of our workforce can be found right on our site. Last year, the company also conducted a review of the salaries of more than 17,000 employees across the globe to look for unexplained differences in pay between men and women. In the end, around 6 percent of employees – comprising roughly equal numbers of men and women – required an adjustment, and Salesforce spent nearly US$3 million to level the differences. Moving forward, the company is making this annual review standard practice, and hopefully that will further help minimize any inequitable differences.
The tech industry has a long way to go in achieving balance between genders. Are there any misconceptions about women in tech you’d like to dispel?
It’s a common perception that women lack the necessary skills to work in tech. That’s because a lot of people think that you need to have a highly technical skillset, for instance in coding or engineering, to work in the industry. But that’s not true at all, and there’s quite a wide range of opportunities available in this rapidly growing sector. For example, there’s always a demand for good leadership, and there’s no reason at all why women cannot fill this niche.
Generally speaking, how important is diversity in creating a dynamic and creative workplace?
When you have a diverse workforce, you also have access to a multitude of different perspectives, which can help fuel creativity and innovation. Furthermore, having a diverse talent pool can really help to attract the best minds out there. In fact, a study released last year by McKinsey & Company found a positive correlation between diversity and business outcomes. To put it simply, companies with greater diversity – in terms of both gender and ethnicity – were more likely to outperform their counterparts with more homogeneous workforces.