Craig Cuffie of Salesforce: A Yr Later Empathy Continues to Flip Motion right into a Motion

Virtually a yr in the past I had a chance to speak with Craig Cuffie, EVP and Chief Procurement Officer for Salesforce.  It was only a few months after George Floyd was murdered, and about 4 months into the pandemic-induced shutdown.  It was a heavy time.  It nonetheless is a heavy time.  Which is why I used to be so glad to talk with Craig once more to see hear how the plans Salesforce had begun in response to the social unrest impressed by the George Floyd scenario.

Beneath is an edited transcript of a portion of our dialog.  However I encourage you to observe the video replay of our full dialogue, or to click on on the embedded SoundCloud participant.


The 4 Ps – One Yr Later

Brent Leary:  It’s been an extended yr, however in some methods it hasn’t felt like a yr.  Inform us how the belongings you have been placing into place at Salesforce a yr in the past have progressed.

Craig Cuffie: 4 P’s. The 4 pillars. Folks, buying, philanthropy, and coverage. So there are 4 senior executives who’re the chairs, three, together with myself. We’ve got sub leads, the a part of our companies, they must be a part of our companies, and about 50 people throughout the corporate maniacally targeted on this and shifting this ahead. 


On the folks entrance, 50% enhance in VP plus Black leaders. And what’s that? It has to do with focus. Now, in opposition to a 60,000 individual firm, it’s nonetheless a small quantity, but it surely’s  rising, so we’re actually happy about that.

Our underrepresented minority hiring is up 40% yr on yr. What’s that? That’s focus, proper, Brent, that’s specializing in it. Partnering with the Government Management Council. I’ve been an ELC member for 13, 14 years and we’ve over the past couple of years have begun to associate with them to assist our yr ends stand up in by way of … From center administration to senior management and the skillset required, and a really distinctive expertise as minority leaders. So we’re in our second yr of that and have doubled down on it.

Inclusive promotion coaching. Common throughout the entire trade. We are saying, “Go get a various slate,” they usually go to get a various slate, however these various people don’t make it previous spherical one, proper. Neglect getting previous spherical one and spherical two, they don’t make it into spherical one. Why not? We’ve carried out plenty of work to grasp that, and have educated our managers in inclusive hiring. What does it imply to be an inclusive chief? And people issues permeate our management coaching packages. We did a high quality ally coaching. 7,000 Salesforce workers have gone by way of ally coaching. So we put our cash the place our mouth is, our exploratory mouth as effectively.

We’ve got established an equality recruiting crew with a singular concentrate on minority expertise. That’s large. We’ve got a warmline. We didn’t invent the warmline, it got here from one other firm, the idea, but it surely’s so that people can have a confidential dialog about belonging, or why they don’t really feel like they belong, and what’s taking place inside their house. So it’s not ER the place you name the ER and say, “That is actually, actually unhealthy, one thing’s taking place,” and an investigation begins. That is I want some assist. It doesn’t imply these different issues couldn’t occur, however that’s a primary begin of, I’m not part of the franchise. I consider I needs to be a part of the franchise. And the way will we … How do you assist the corporate get there?


We dedicated $200 million and one million hours of VTO (voluntary day without work) over the following 5 years. That’s a giant dedication, and we’re shifting out and really targeted on high-impact organizations that concentrate on racial equality. And my expensive buddy, Ebony Beckwith runs the Salesforce Basis and heads all our philanthropic efforts. She’s simply superior. And we need to shut that hole along with your institutes. And also you’ve heard this when folks say, “Is that this a second or is it a motion?” Proper. We are able to flip a second right into a motion by not giving up the main focus, by holding it unbelievably current.

I did a management coaching, I used to be one of many college, and I had a complete bunch of stuff occurring, proper. Throughout that week it was actual. 4 days of strong out college stuff for Zoom. On Zoom and different issues occurring. And I mentioned, “You already know what?” I mentioned, “My studying this week, my private studying, is I must be extra current. I must cease doing a zillion issues at a time as a result of I’m not good at that many issues.” All of us discover out we’re not constructed to multitask. We predict we’re however we don’t. However being targeted, and being current, and holding this prime of thoughts, proper, is what is going to assist from the second to motion. And that’s actually, actually vital that firms like Salesforce hold that focus.


We talked about and I’ve been saying it – from counting spend, to counting influence. The oldsters who’ve my job, how a lot … What number of billions of spend did you may have beneath administration? And that’s all effectively and good, however what’s the influence of the {dollars} you spend? Who’re you serving to?

I used to be with a crew of oldsters who do what I do, and we have been speaking… They speak about addressable spend and non-addressable spend, proper, due to the objectives. What occurs if we spend by way of our each day and quarterly yearly spend. And there are issues which can be sacrosanct within the enterprise like oh, what occurs within the monetary aspect. The bankers, the treasury folks, and so forth. And in some circumstances, very high-end consults, we do M&A, these are all specialties. And it’s all addressable. It’s all addressable.

You do what my expensive buddy Robin Washington says is when somebody comes there when she was nonetheless CFO, she’s retired now, and choose a financial institution. When a giant financial institution is available in and says, “You need to do enterprise?” And she or he says, “Nicely, inform me, what does your portfolio appear to be of various firms that do enterprise with you? And I need to see whenever you name on me, I need to see some variety as a result of I do know there’s some Black bankers on the market.” Proper. So having these conversations are actually, actually vital, proper.

And so I’ve mentioned to my head of provider variety and sustainability, improbable government named Madison Gunter, I mentioned, “I need to be a member of the Billion Greenback Roundtable,” proper. So when you go discover that, and my expensive buddy, Shelley Steward is the chair of that, the Billion Greenback Roundtable is plenty of firms that spend collectively $83 billion with various suppliers. And that’s simply the tip of the iceberg. And I mentioned, “I need to be in”. And belief me, there’s no trip, there’s no jet, there’s no pleasure with it. There’s nothing however bragging rights, proper, to be within the Billion Greenback Roundtable. However what it says is that you just’re doing all of your job proper, and that you just’re being unbelievably inclusive, in the case of the concentrate on various suppliers. And I take {that a} step ahead from counting spend to really counting influence. So plenty of good work.


I’ve to say the coverage work we’re doing. Advocating for police reform. We’re out entrance, within the halls of legislatures advocating for police reform, advocating for civic engagement, advocating for insurance policies that drive empowerment, taking a look at legal guidelines and rules that defend in opposition to racism. I imply, proper now the entire dialog round voter rights, proper, it’s large. So once more, working aggressively on all these issues.

Brent Leary: Proper.

Craig Cuffie: We mentioned, “All these items goes to value,” proper. After which so ensuring that these multi-year packages may get funded and have folks to do it proper so it’s not simply lip service and it will get plugged into the chief variety officer’s workplace or someplace inside human sources or someplace inside … Choose a division. It doesn’t matter what it’s linked to, it issues that it’s funded, proper, in the proper manner so it’s efficient. And so these are the issues that we’ve carried out, proper, over time, proper on this final yr.

Challenges of the previous yr

Brent Leary: Give me among the issues which were probably the most stunning challenges you’ve confronted and this crew has gone by way of this final yr?

Craig Cuffie: I don’t know if I had any surprises, proper. I don’t sleep so I don’t scream in the course of the evening. This can be a lengthy format downside and an extended format answer, proper. So if any of us thinks that by way of anybody motion, together with up by way of the President of the US, proper, and government orders and potential laws, that that is going to vary in a single day, it’s not. It is not going to change in my life.

And I don’t know when you’re conversant in this research that McKinsey did. It got here on a few months in the past they usually talked about financial parity, in that Black America it would take, left to its personal gadgets with the present forces at play, 95 years earlier than the Black neighborhood would see financial parity. And this research you discover it, It breaks it down by trade, by geography, it provides you a little bit historical past lesson most Black people lived down. They nonetheless reside down south. They don’t reside essentially the place all probably the most cash is made. I imply … It made me unhappy. And our CEO despatched it out. He despatched it out to me and a handful of others to check out and I simply mentioned, “This makes me unhappy.”

And if I give it some thought as if I put this when it comes to my life and the lifetime of my household, I mentioned, “95 years,” my granddaughter is 4. So I mentioned, “If you concentrate on 95 years from now when she is nearly 100 when she’s 99, her great-grandchildren may have the chance that now we have dreamed about.” So we absorb some 500 years for Blacks on this nation, on this continent to see financial parity.

Empathy Resulting in Motion

Brent Leary: I like the way you’ve talked about  “going from empathy to motion” as a result of I believe I’ve seen plenty of emphasis on being empathetic … I suppose that’s the begin of the place hopefully that bleeds proper into some motion. I’m fascinated with simply this previous yr, really this previous month, we had the 100-year acknowledgment, or memorial, or nevertheless you need to phrase it, for what occurred in Tulsa. And we additionally had Juneteenth grow to be a Federal Vacation. Are these indicators of motion from a complete bunch of empathy that befell after seeing what occurred a little bit over a yr in the past?

Craig Cuffie: I’ve recognized about Tulsa for an extended, very long time, proper. And the top of business authorized, who handles my crew from a authorized standpoint, requested a query. He mentioned, “Craig, I didn’t find out about any of this,”. He mentioned, “I didn’t find out about any of this in faculty or highschool.” And I mentioned, “Historical past is written by the victors,  proper, since you wipe out the vanquished. So you then get to write down the historical past. Historical past is written by the victors primary.”

Brent Leary: Proper.

Craig Cuffie: After which quantity two, it’s important to be curious, proper. You need to say, “Why is the world the way in which it’s and assist me perceive?” So it’s important to grow to be a little bit little bit of a private historian your self and a researcher to go discover out about this stuff. Juneteenth has been round since Juneteenth has been round, proper. And is it happenstance that now we have the acknowledgment of the 100 anniversary of what occurred in Tulsa, simply basically a mass homicide. 

Brent Leary: No different method to say it. Earlier than they have been calling it a riot, now I believe they’re lastly calling it a bloodbath.

Craig Cuffie: So these two occasions on this final month have been in acknowledgment and recognition, as a result of only a few folks have survived that lengthy to inform that story. And there are only a few causes which have taken up the story. And that is an unbelievable time the place we are actually, the place issues have coalesced such that the story might be advised in a significant manner and social media helps an amazing deal. However it’s an acknowledgment of an unbelievable flawed. 

Juneteenth. I don’t consider the entire neighborhood understands the significance of what it’s wish to be an enslaved folks and the lives of these people, and what it meant to be free. 

And normally, not in all circumstances, normally, when you’re a Black or an African-American, select which time period you need, we’re descendants of slaves until you got here to this nation from one other nation. So it’s that legacy that lives with you all the time. And it’s nice to see in society the triumphs that this neighborhood has had regardless of systemic racism that’s performed out on this neighborhood.

That is a part of the One-on-One Interview collection with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it is an audio or video interview, click on on the embedded participant above, or subscribe by way of iTunes or by way of Stitcher.