Responsible Use of Technology: The Salesforce Case Study
The World Economic Forum Responsible Use of Technology project aims to help bring the worlds of business, civil society and government together by providing leaders with practical tools to: 1) educate and train their employees to think more about responsible technology, 2) design their organization to promote more ethical behaviour and outcomes, and 3) design and develop more responsible technology products.
This case study is the third in a series publicly presenting major technology companies’ ethics and responsible technology efforts. The report goes deep into the story of operationalizing technology ethics within Salesforce, a company that, from the start, has prided itself on emphasizing ethics, inclusion, accessibility and making a positive impact but has still experienced a need to grow as the technology and surrounding society changed. Through collaboration with Salesforce employees and an examination of many of their ethics resources, this paper reveals the process of transformation that took place at Salesforce and how the operationalization of ethics became institutionalized through the Office of Ethical and Humane Use of Technology. The journey of improvement is never complete, and the field of corporate technology ethics is changing quickly. The purpose of these case studies is not to elevate these companies as unreachable paragons of virtue – indeed, in each case, it was a stumble that led each company towards further growth. Rather, the hope is that by sharing their experiences of making technology ethics “real” in their contexts, those shared experiences might help others who wish to engage in similar efforts.