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Blurring the Lines Between Business and Government: Salesforce and CEO Activism
Case Questions:
1. Why was this the right issue for Benioff to advocate? Was it his place to do so?
CEO Activism is when business leaders advocate for political and social change that doesn’t affect their bottom line. Though they’re motivated by external, internal, and personal interests, activist CEOs generally raise awareness and leverage economic power. Awareness-raising. This involves making public statements—often in the media, more often on Twitter—to support social movements and usher in change.
Benioff tweet said “today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination” and included a link to a CNN article about the discriminatory nature of the bill.
As Benioff told Time, “Today CEOs need to stand up not just for their shareholders, but their employees, their customers, their partners, the community, the environment, schools, everybody.”
2. Did Salesforce do enough or should it have pushed for more change? Did the company stop too soon? Did it give up? Is the level of change Salesforce achieved appropriate for the Indiana context?
3. Are activist CEOs appropriate leaders for all corporations or more appropriate for some versus others? Are some issues better suited to CEO activism than others?
4. Should businesses have the power to change political decisions? Is this an example of government ceding power to business? If so, how would that affect society?

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