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San Francisco-based Salesforce is a multibillion-dollar company known for taking a stand on diversity. In response to a new and deeply discriminatory Indiana law, the cloud-computing giant is once again putting its money where its mouth is.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who spoke at the Lesbians Who Tech Summit earlier this month, has now spoken out against Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been widely criticized as a way for businesses to deny service to LGBT customers in the name of religious liberty.
Benioff, a well-liked philanthropist who often leads the charge on social issues within the tech community, called off all company travel to the state of Indiana and encouraged other tech leaders to follow suit.
“We’ve made significant investments in Indiana,” Benioff told Re/code. “We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation.”
“[I]t is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large. I encourage states that are considering passing laws like the one rejected by Arizona or adopted by Indiana to reconsider and abandon these discriminatory actions. (We’re looking at you, Arkansas.)”
It remains to be seen how many other tech companies will follow suit, but the #BoycottIndiana movement appears to be gaining momentum and visibility, particularly now that Silicon Valley cash is at stake.
What is happening in Indiana is pretty unbelievable. However it’s dressed up, it’s a signal that discrimination is welcome in this state.
— Max Levchin (@mlevchin) March 26, 2015
As Benioff said on stage at the Lesbians Who Tech Summit, in order to further social change, “I think you also have to put the onus back on the CEOs.”
We have reached out to Salesforce for comment on the potential financial impact of their decision. We will update if we hear back.
Update 1:55pm CT, March 27: Salesforce responded that the company would “[let] Marc’s tweets do the talking for now.” In the last hour, Apple CEO Tim Cook has also spoken out via Twitter against the bill.
Around the world, we strive to treat every customer the same — regardless of where they come from, how they worship or who they love.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 27, 2015
Taylor Hatmaker has reported on the tech industry for nearly a decade, covering privacy and government. Most recently, she was the Debug editor of the Daily Dot. Prior to that, she was a staff writer and deputy editor at ReadWrite, a tech and business reporter for Yahoo News, and the senior editor of Tecca. Her editorial interests include censorship, digital activism, LGBTQ issues, and futurist consumer tech.