back to article Salesforce likes to play the diversity nice guy in public – Black ex-employee claims the reality is quite different

A Black former Salesforce employee has accused the global CRM software company of "countless micro-aggressions and inequity". According to her LinkedIn page, Cynthia Perry worked as senior manager in design research and as lead design researcher for more than two years, before leaving Salesforce this month. Posting her …

  1. Dr Scrum Master

    Rant. No Content.

    I took a look at her letter. It's a 5 page rambling rant that says nothing more about the so-called microagressions, etc than what's written here.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Rant. No Content.

      my initial reaction was that the "micro-agressions" might have been the fault of the recipient by "interpreting them that way". This whole idea of "micro-agressions" and "triggering" nauseates me to no end. Unfortunately there isn't a "Vomit" icon...

      Also, deep pocket lawsuits are (unfortunately) a possible motive for possible false allegations by disgruntled employees.

      1. sreynolds Silver badge

        Re: Rant. No Content.

        <Just doing a git bisect of the comment, to see if the bottom half was offensive>

        You cannot win unless there is a felony involved. I wonder if there was a place where you could really find out about companies before you considered applying. I mean the glassdoor is heavily regulated. Trustpilot perhaps.

        1. RM Myers

          Re: Rant. No Content.

          Employment lawsuits almost never involve felonies, that would be criminal law. And given the cost and potential bad publicity of defending these types of lawsuits, employers will frequently settle them out of court no matter the merits. You can easily spend tens of millions of dollars on advertising your products which is totally undermined by the publicity of a single lawsuit.

  2. Jan 0 Silver badge

    @martinusher

    How and why do you make a single post "no longer open for votes"?

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: @martinusher

      I was able to vote for his post. I suspect that El Reg staff have implemented a rather stricter moderation policy for this comment thread on the grounds that articles discussing race tend to bring the deplorables out of the woodwork. Or it was a random glitch.

      1. Dr Scrum Master

        Re: @martinusher

        Still wondering what in his post was problematic...

  3. Al-Noor Ramji

    In the UK the main Salesforce prejudice is against white people with working class accents, no matter how qualified and appropriate for the role.

    That and the nutty ex EDS people in senior levels hiring and promoting their ex EDS friends, and continuing the old internal EDS battles in Salesforce.

    Such a shame really.

    Given that white working class boys, in the UK, have far and away the lowest chances of going to university really at the more junior (well actually all) levels its those kinds of demographics they should be helping, not ex public school ethnic minorities.

    Too much box ticking. Too much like a cult.

    Not honest with their interviewees either, they promise expenses for attending interviews but only pay out if you are offered the role, which again act against anyone with a working class background for who the travel expenses are significant.

    Shame really.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Given that white working class boys.....

      Black working class boys are just as disadvantaged as white working class boys.

      Classic attempt by the bourgeoisie to turn the working class against itself.

      Eat the rich!

      (By rich i mean all those considerably richer than me!!)

    2. James Anderson

      While I agree with your comments. The white working class in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

      The situation in the USA is very different. I have scars on my tung from having to keep quite while senior well educated American colleges made blatantly racist comments. The number of times what I thought were decent friendly people decided because I was white I must be as racist as them and shared their abhorrent views over a beer.

      130 years after the civil war the USA has a chronic race problem and thanks to Trump and co. It’s getting worse.

      1. Dr Scrum Master

        Unfortunately the English language (and a media-fueled obsession with Americana) mean that left-pondian social problems are imported into the UK when we've had quite separate histories for over 200 years.

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        130 years after the civil war the USA has a chronic race problem and thanks to Trump and co. It’s getting worse.

        Unfortunately the US has an entire industry doing its best to push a narrative of racism, while being racist themselves. Trump is irrelevant to that: watch the emboldened grievance industry accelerate and push further divides in US society now.

        Even in the UK the police investigate as a hate crime the awful racism of "It's OK to be white": https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-53246478

        The world does indeed seem to have become more racist in the last decade, but all I can suggest is that you look at who is demanding racial segregation, who is celebrated for being proud of their skin colour and whose lives matter.

        For the record, and not targeted at you: Racism is bad. Don't be racist.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Michael Holding said it best about people complaining about "Black Lives Matter" being "racist":

          Its all about equality. And when you say to someone "Black Lives Matter" and they tell you "All Lives Matter" or "White Lives Matter" - please, we Black people know that "White Lives Matter", I don't think you know that "Black Lives Matter". So don't shout back at us about "All Lives Matter" - it is obvious; the evidence is clearly there that "White Lives Matter" - we want Black lives to matter now. Simple as that

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            I don't think you know that "Black Lives Matter"

            Great cricketer but he can fuck right off telling me what I do and don't know.

            I'm not watching the whole video to find out but maybe within it he did explain this very different approach by the police based entirely and purely on the skin colour being mentioned:

            https://metro.co.uk/2020/06/04/london-police-take-knee-black-lives-matter-protesters-12802784/ vs https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/police-investigating-white-lives-matter-banner-71399431

        2. sabroni Silver badge

          re: Racism is bad. Don't be racist.

          We love you, go home.

      3. sabroni Silver badge

        re: The working class in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

        FTFY.

        The only people who gain by turning white working class people against black working class people are racists and the bourgeoisie.

        Which one are you?

        1. James Anderson

          Re: re: The working class in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

          White working class are the only group that you can safely mock in public. Public schoolboy Harry Enfield has been taking the piss the white working class for decades without anyone complaining.

          The labour party which was founded to represent the working classes of the UK has very few working class people in senior positions. The last serious senior labour politician who acted and sounded working class was John Prescott who was the but of endless ridicule.

          For the most part the complaints about the under representation of ethic minorities in higher positions, is, actually just an under-representation of people from working class backgrounds in general.

          So poor housing, underfunded education, no employment security, a stock market that rewards companies for reducing head count etc. etc.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: re: The working class in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

            All of those things apply equally to black people, with the added disadvantage of living in a majority white country with racist institutions.

            The rich created this system, not black people. The rich benefit from this system, not black people. The rich want the working class to fight amongst themselves, not black people.

            You're peddling nasty, divisive, tory bollocks.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The white working class in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

        Rubbish. Provide some evidence of your attempts to slide right wing talking points into the discourse.

        Raw attainment data tells us how all children of different ethnicities perform at the aggregate level in relation to each other. However, it is well known that economically disadvantaged children tend to have lower academic achievements than their more advantaged peers. On top of this, ethnic minority groups tend to experience economic disadvantage at higher levels than their White British counterparts.

        A look at how these economic dimensions affects educational achievement reveals some crucial dynamics.Eligibility for free school meals (FSM) is commonly used as an indicator of deprivation by the Department for Education. Although it is a crude measure, it acts as proxy for low income because parents who are eligible to claim FSM are in receipt of qualifying benefits for low income, such as income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit where household income is below a given threshold. The standard FSM indicator includes all pupils who are eligible to receive FSM, not only those who actually received FSM.

        Figure 4 shows the proportion of children known to be eligible for FSM, from 2008/09 to 2018/19 by ethnicity subgroup. It shows that, with the exception of Black Caribbean and White British pupils, the proportion of pupils eligible for FSM has reduced over the last decade. Bangladeshi students have seen the biggest drop – from 46% eligibility for FSM, to 25%. That being said, this group of pupils still has the highest proportion of FSM eligibility.

        Although the proportion of White British pupils eligible for FSM has slowly risen over the last decade, from 10% to just under 13%, they remain one of the groups least likely to be eligible, with only Indian students seeing lower proportions (7%) out of all ethnic groups analysed, here. Caribbean pupils have seen a similar increase of 3% over that period. They now (along with Bangladeshi pupils) have one of the highest FSM eligibility rates

        https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CSJJ8513-Ethnicity-Poverty-Report-FINAL.pdf

        TL;DR The multi-ethnic precariat in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: The white working class in the UK is very much an oppressed majority.

          "However, it is well known that economically disadvantaged children tend to have lower academic achievements than their more advantaged peers"

          And my experience is that many such children take great delight in pulling those around them down to their level - to the point that a bright kid from such a background is extremely likely to be relentlessly bullied into "toeing the line" and "not standing out". The poorer the area, the worse the bullying

          It's a cult of jealous medocrity, it''s inherited from parents and it's become self-perpetuating

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That Linkedin (yuk) link...

    Starts with:

    'I think this might be my first post on LinkedIn.'

    I'm no expert but if you can't even remember if this was your first post on the craptastic faux professional shitshow that is linkedin than maybe you're undermining your own argument?

    Just my thoughts spread wide on El Reg.

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: That Linkedin (yuk) link...

      It was clearly rhetorical. Poncy but rhetorical.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "..... gaslit, manipulated, bullied, and mostly unsupported"

    So the same (mis)treatment as the rest of the serfs then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So the same (mis)treatment as the rest of the serfs then.

      Because added racism makes no difference, right?

  6. Peter D

    An important issue

    You can't just ignore micro aggressions because before you know it the mini annoyances that inevitably ensue just start blocking the fire escapes.

  7. Popsi
    WTF?

    Lead Design Researcher

    Could someone please explain in simple words what a Lead Design Researcher does?

    I have no understanding why a company hires a lorry driver, a baker, a janitor, an account or a secretary. But how would a lead design researcher bring in some cash for my company?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lead Design Researcher

      Good question, especially at a company like Salesforce. My company uses Salesforce and I couldn't tell you why they would need more than two programmers to write/maintain the user front end and a boatload of Sys Adkins to keep their backend servers running. Maybe Lead Design Researchers try to tease out of large data sets whether the customers of ours that buy our kilowatt laser products would be interested in cat toys.

      1. Graham Cunningham
        Joke

        Sys Adkins

        Is that an example of nominative determinism? Are people called Adkins more likely to work in IT?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Lead Design Researcher

        "whether the customers of ours that buy our kilowatt laser products would be interested in cat toys"

        long distance feline bothering?

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Reality is normal

    "The company has set itself the target of half of its US workforce being made up of underrepresented groups including women, people of colour, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities by 2023."

    That sounds better but how does the other half of the workforce feel about it? Typically in the US you hear this sort of thing and the guys at the top of the corporate ladder start hiring women, people of colour, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities to clean the toilets and pick up the garbage - one or two will be placed in high viability positions like the Vice President, to make it look good from the outside. No, that is not a political statement but it is the way things go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reality is normal

      That's how it's been at my company. The display VP's are competent, but nothing special. But it does send the message that being the best performer at your job & being well qualified isn't sufficient for promotion. Instead, an additional factor you have no control over is a nessesary condition for advancement.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Reality is normal

        "an additional factor you have no control over is a necessary condition for advancement"

        That's always been the case, it's just the necessary condition has shifted a bit.

  9. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    "Salesforce will now be left to defend itself against Perry's allegations."

    Why? When someone uses the argument 'micro-aggressions and inequity' then they are likely 'woke' which undermines their argument (even if it is valid). Simply talking like a perpetual victim will discredit the argument and not responding to it keeps it insignificant and childish.

    As to the person leaving, good on you. I dont know if its a good or bad place to work but you didnt like it and you left, kudo's. I honestly hope they find a job they like.

    If salesforce is not interested in the latest woke diversity quota crap then its probably better for that to be clear from the outset. It will appeal to some people and not to others but it will reduce the mismatch of unwanted employee applying to a workplace that will hate their presence. If people were allowed to be honest it would save a lot of hassle for both employer, employees and looking for employment.

    As for the setting up targets to include people for reasons other than skill, why? For how long have people argued for equality and now want people to be divided into special categories for counting? The example itself is pretty racist to single out the black person to say there isnt enough of them. Do they want to work for salesforce? Dont they deserve the right to choose for themselves what they should be doing or are they to be considered too stupid to sort themselves out?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      "The example itself is pretty racist to single out the black person to say there isnt enough of them. "

      Sure it is.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        So AC are you claiming its ok to single people out based on skin colour? Best stay AC I think

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          Careful now. Strawmen are flammable.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            @AC

            "Careful now. Strawmen are flammable."

            So far you have not contributed anything of any value. So go on. I think it is wrong to single people out due to skin colour and you seem to disagree. So explain.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmm

              See here:

              https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/20/have-we-outgrown-the-need-for-affirmative-action

              If it is too long, one of the last paragraphs is,

              "But the reason we have affirmative action is that we once had slavery and Jim Crow and redlining and racial covenants, and that we once had all-white police forces and all-white union locals and all-white college campuses and all-white law firms. To paraphrase George Shultz, Nixon’s Secretary of Labor: for hundreds of years, the United States had a racial quota. It was zero. Affirmative action is an attempt to redress an injustice done to black people. The Fourteenth Amendment protects white people, too, but that is not why it needed to be written."

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Hmm

                Lest anyone think that it's NOT needed in the UK: a reminder of the 1964 Smethwick election should be made

                Alf Garnett was created as a way of calling out the behaviour/attitudes - but that didn't stop the character being taken to heart by National Front/BNP/Nigel Farage

              2. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Hmm

                @AC

                "See here:"

                Thanks for the article. I appreciate a half decent response because it can be discussed. So how long must this go on for and what is adequate representation? How do we evaluate success so we can drop this 'observation' and get back to equality?

                Assuming you are the same AC you replied to me saying it is pretty racist to single out the black person. The article you posted actually states-

                We took race out of the equation only to realize that, if we truly wanted not just equality of opportunity for all Americans but equality of result, we needed to put it back in.

                Now this actually explains the huge problem and failure of this approach- "equality of result". Instead of equal opportunity for people this is trying to dictate the outcome. Instead of people having opportunities they are to be forced into the predefined and expected 'result'.

                Equality of opportunity allows people to go their own way and to find what they are good at. Equality of result could make me a football player. Equality of opportunity allows me to discover I have no hope in hell of being a football player (UK or US). My exclusion based on my ability and attributes not to fit some megalomaniacs quota.

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      "For how long have people argued for equality and now want people to be divided into special categories for counting?"

      How else would you figure out if they are being treated equally?

      Promoting based on merit and promoting based on diversity are orthogonal, but that doesn't mean we should use only the x-axis and toss out the y-axis, because in practice that seems to lead to promoting only when y=0 (or whatever value of y seems preferable to the management).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        "Promoting based on merit and promoting based on diversity are orthogonal"

        Not necessarily.

        It means weighting so that if there are two equally qualified candidates then the minority candidate has a slightly higher chance of landing the role. It emphatically DOES NOT mean hiring an unqualified person over significantly better-qualified competitors, but it might mean slotting them into a role which they can grow into if only just missing the requirements

        It also means ENCOURAGING minority/underepresented staff to further their training and ensuring they have support & opportunities to actually do so when "invisibles" at home may be holding them back

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @yetanotheraoc

        "How else would you figure out if they are being treated equally?"

        What is to figure out? The unfortunate of measuring something is there is always someone who would try to then do something about it. Especially when that doing something exerts control over others.

        "in practice that seems to lead to promoting only when y=0 (or whatever value of y seems preferable to the management)."

        Good. Because if they are discriminating on anything but ability then someone else will get the benefit of those skills. What would be worse is management hiring someone they dont want and dont like and making life hell.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      "When someone uses the argument 'micro-aggressions and inequity' then they are likely 'woke' which undermines their argument (even if it is valid). Simply talking like a perpetual victim will discredit the argument and not responding to it keeps it insignificant and childish."

      I think that's a reasonably fair point. It is absolutely right for unfair and discriminatory treatment to be flagged up, but, at some time in the past few years, some people seem to have tried to move the balance beyond seeking equality and fairness for all and have moved into a state of, for want of a better word "professional victimhood", and take massive umbrage at every minor niggle (probably including that word, for absolutely no good reason, given its meaning and origin, other than that part of it sounds similar to another word).

      In some cases, some of the awkward experiences may well be genuine and do need addressed, preferably politely, especially if the person is unaware that they are, for example, making somewhat stereotyped (and not intended to be offensive) comments. But there are also people who seem to see slights in absolutely everything, regardless, and they become extremely awkward and "prickly" people for anyone to work with, sadly, which probably only perpetuates and deepens any mutual feelings of uncomfortableness.

      (A different AC.)

  10. not.known@this.address

    Equality? We've heard of that...

    "The company has set itself the target of half of its US workforce being made up of underrepresented groups including women, people of colour, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities by 2023."

    I always thought the best way for a company to succeed was to hire the best person for the job, but apparently not. Also, if they hire a white male Veteran, are they required to count him in both "White Male" and "Veteran" quotas or do they simply ignore the "Veteran" flag and file him as "White Male"?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The company has set itself the target of half of its US workforce being made up of underrepresented groups including women, people of colour, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities by 2023."

    If you include everything but white males without disabilities who aren't vets as an "underrepresented groups" it's a little shocking that their workforce doesn't already consist of more than half "underrepresented groups". By that logic the software company I work for that has nearly 50% female employees, and a large percentage of visible minorities is already 83% "underrepresented groups", with many employees being more than one "underrepresented group".

    I'm not normally a fan of singling out groups like this, but it just seems strange to me that Salesforce employees are more than 50% white and male. Maybe it's a regional thing and I just live in a very multi-ethnic region, but Salesforce DOES have an office here.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Inequity" just means people aren't being selected based on identity group membership, "microagressions" are slights small enough that one needs to describe them by a special word. "Lived experience" is a euphemism meaning "no impartial perspective or hard evidence". If these are the worst complaints Salesforce is facing they must be doing a good job.

    I've been openly rejected from jobs for belonging to the wrong idenity group and had supervisors pry into and relay confidential information about me when I did get a job. It really gives me pause when people are so upset over nothing at all. I wonder if they even realise what lives of comfort and privledge they are living.

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