From The Indianapolis Star (IndyStar). Article Posted May 20th, 2017. By Marc Benioff – Chairman and CEO of Salesforce
Indianapolis is a national leader in creating jobs requiring science, technology, engineering and math skills. The region’s universities and community colleges produce a pipeline of graduates with high-tech know-how.
In today’s global economy where everyone and everything is connected, technology companies can set up shop anywhere. The software company that I lead, Salesforce — which helps businesses manage their customer relationships — has operations in 25 countries, even as nearly all of our software is made in America, including here in Indianapolis.
Salesforce came to Indiana four years ago with our acquisition of Indianapolis-based ExactTarget. We knew we were acquiring a great company, but soon came to realize we were also becoming part of a great state and community. Indiana is one of the best states in which to do business, and the state’s Hoosier hospitality is legendary.
But what impressed me most is the quality of people, including those who are now part of our Salesforce family. Indianapolis is a national leader in creating jobs requiring science, technology, engineering and math skills. The region’s universities and community colleges produce a pipeline of graduates with high-tech know-how.
Today, Salesforce is one of the largest tech employers in Indiana, and our 1,600 employees here make Indianapolis our largest presence outside our San Francisco headquarters.
With today’s official opening of Salesforce Tower Indianapolis, we’re affirming our commitment to the community and offering a model of public-private cooperation to advance our shared goals and values.
First, we’re moving ahead with our commitment to hire 800 Indy workers over five years— including jobs in engineering, finance and IT — helping to fuel the city’s economic development. In addition, our clients and customers will help boost business travel to Indianapolis; some are following our lead and opening local offices of their own. As with any innovation hub, Central Indiana likely will see new spin-offs and start-ups, allowing more Hoosiers to stay and work in the state they love.
Second, we need to develop the workforce of the future. As part of our FutureForce initiative, we’ll empower more Indiana workers with skills for the jobs of tomorrow, such as software development and data management. Here in Indianapolis, Salesforce is committing to training 500 apprentices over the next three years so they can begin new careers in tech. We’ll offer free training to military veterans so they can compete for new civilian jobs. This is our company’s first contribution toward what I believe must be a national goal — an apprenticeship “moonshot” to create five million new apprenticeships in the United States over the next five years.
Third, we need to keep expanding access to education, which is the greatest force for creating opportunity and growth and reducing economic inequality. Gov. Eric Holcomb has proposed expanding pre-K opportunities for low-income children. Businesses, with their vast resources, can help. More than 90 percent of our local employees volunteer in Indy public schools and nonprofits. I challenge every company to adopt a nearby public school, as we have done with IPS School 51, where our employees have taught children to code.
Finally, we need to keep fighting for the equality of all people. Two years ago, Salesforce, along with other local Indiana businesses and many community leaders, stood up against a law that we believed could have allowed businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. As a result of this collective action by companies, community leaders and government officials working together, the law was amended.
Any form of discrimination not only denies individuals their inherent dignity; it hurts companies and communities — it restricts growth — by not drawing on the incredible talents of all our people. We are stronger and more prosperous when women receive equal pay for equal work and when all people are treated equally, regardless of religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Our expansion here offers a powerful lesson to cities and states across the country. When we truly invest in the skills of our workers and insist on equality for all, any community can become the next hub of technology and innovation.
Benioff is Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.