London party

London activist Tulipshare has struck a blow after Salesforce shareholders vetoed a racial justice audit

A proposal by London-based activist investor Tulipshare to investigate racial justice at Salesforce has been rejected by the tech giant – a blow to the British startup.

Tulipshare submitted plans for an investigation after two senior employees quit Salesforce last year and then took to social media to cite a “toxic environment” and “dishonest marketing around equality”. Around 2,500 of Salesforce’s 77,000 employees are in the UK, with many based at Salesforce Tower in the City of London.

Tulipshare, launched last year, is an investment platform that wants to change business practices. It allows investors to join forces and pool shares in order to reach the threshold for submitting resolutions to shareholders’ votes at annual general meetings. Tulipshare was also behind a proposal to overhaul Amazon worker storage conditions that received 44% approval in a shareholder vote last month.

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At Salesforce’s AGM on June 9, the board asked shareholders to reject proposals for an independent audit of its impact on civil rights, equity, diversity and inclusion. The motion was defeated, Salesforce said, although it did not release final vote totals.

Jenna Armitage, director of marketing at Tulipshare, added that she hoped Salesforce would engage more with the proposals, calling the decision “disturbing”. She said FN: “A third-party racial equity audit can only support the company in the long run.”

A multitude of similar proposals have been on the agenda of shareholder meetings this year, notably at Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft said earlier this week it would hire a third party to conduct a “civil rights” audit in an effort to improve diversity and inclusion.

But Salesforce’s biggest proxy voter, ISS, said the company is already doing enough on diversity and inclusion without an independent audit. The board’s proxy voting materials, echoed by ISS, cite several internal diversity initiatives launched since the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 pressured companies to hire more people from diverse backgrounds. black and ethnic minorities.

FN contacted ISS and Salesforce for comment.

Representation in the UK does not appear to be an issue among tech workers – a survey of over 2,000 workers found that 50% said they have a manager who identifies as being from an ethnic minority. However, the Censuswide poll found that nearly half of those surveyed in the tech industry, 43%, had experienced workplace racism, compared to just 15% of staff in non-tech sectors.

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Ezechi Britton, founding member of impact investing group Impact X – which also campaigns for racial justice in the tech sector – said Financial News the decision “sent a very strong signal to people in the industry and to the community at large that [Salesforce] doesn’t care about diversity and equality”.

“Companies [like Salesforce] printed their big black squares a few years ago on Instagram and LinkedIn and said they were going to go to great lengths to create change, of which we have seen very little.”

He added, “I would challenge any person of color in Salesforce and say, ‘Does your company care about you?'”

“For an organization as influential as Salesforce, I think it’s a travesty.”

Tulipshare also pointed to Salesforce’s diversity numbers, with the number of black employees in the US Salesforce workforce only increasing by 2.3 percentage points, and Hispanic and Latino representation only increasing. by 1.1 percentage points over six years, bringing the figures to 4.3% and 5.1% respectively. . It comes after Salesforce set a goal in 2016 to have 50% of its U.S. workforce made up of underrepresented groups by 2023.

Tulipshare markets itself as the world’s first activist investment platform, bringing together retail investors and extending voting rights to fractional shares. The firm emphasizes that it is not an asset manager, robo-advisor, green fund or ETF.

The startup made waves earlier this year by slamming JPMorgan after the bank asked US watchdogs to reject proposals that included ending financial ties with fossil fuel companies.

To contact the author of this story with comments or news, email Alex Daniel