Competition forces companies to either evolve and meet the current needs of the consumer, or fall behind their competitors. The current zeitgeist influences not just the products, but the values of a business or corporation. Marc Benioff, the founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Salesforce, calls this change “New Capitalism,” and says it’s not going anywhere.
Salesforce is a publicly-traded, cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) company. It’s one of the biggest names in tech today, known for being innovative and philanthropic. A wide variety of companies, both large and small, use its software to do anything from managing customer databases to sending out email blasts.
When Marc Benioff started Salesforce over 21 years ago, he implemented the 1-1-1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy. Today, he encourages every business to pledge one percent and promote sustainable business practices. Salesforce’s 1-1-1 model dedicates one percent of its revenue, one percent of its product, and one percent of its employees’ time to the community.
Today, consumers are more aware of environmental issues than ever, and the marketplace is flooded with similar products and services. In order to stand out today, Marc Benioff believes that companies need to be value-based, with concepts of sustainability, corporate responsibility, equality, and social change being at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. It’s not just about the shareholders and dollar signs anymore. New capitalism values the stakeholders, customers, community, and planet in addition to traditional shareholders.
Marc Benioff said to Fortune Magazine, “businesses have to move to a new capitalism: a more equal, fair, and sustainable way of doing business.” A new emphasis on company values and sustainability is changing how we view the idea of capitalism. Businesses that put a strong emphasis on corporate giving and sustainable business practices often see a positive response from customers, which benefits shareholders. Once companies understand it’s more profitable to adopt sustainable business practices, it becomes a core value of who they are.
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This idea of new capitalism, and having multiple stakeholders behind the shareholders and investors, influences company culture. Salesforce is continuously rated as one of the top places to work because of its company culture. Employees and other stakeholders trust Salesforce and its values, appreciating the focus on philanthropy and giving back. It’s an innovative company where employees feel valued and important. Because Salesforce is such a positive place to work, it attracts the top talent to help propel the company forward and bring about new ideas.
Marc Benioff’s idea of new capitalism defines a company’s value by more than dollar signs and stock prices. Successful companies today have to pay attention to their stakeholders, beyond investors and shareholders. They need to understand what customers want and what they feel is important. Consumers today feel that the companies they purchase from and use are a reflection of who they are. It’s important to establish trust and have meaning beyond products and services, with corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices. Company culture doesn’t change overnight, but re-evaluating what your company’s values are, and making small efforts to be more sustainable, is a great place to start.