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Representation Matters: Transformative Lessons from Trailblazing Leaders

Ani Zhang

July 01, 2023

Salesforce leaders and influential speakers share powerful moments from our sixth annual racial equality summit.

Representation Matters Paving the way, together. June 13. Live Stream.


Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities remain largely underrepresented in the tech industry and in business leadership at large — and Salesforce is doing something about it. Representation Matters – our annual racial equality summit, sponsored by Deloitte Digital – aims to showcase leaders who have blazed new trails in their fields and are advocating for equality for all.


This year’s event, hosted at Salesforce Tower New York, had more than one million viewers and featured inspiring discussions, ranging from racial biases in technology to the balance between wellness and high performance. Here are some key lessons learned:


Endure Doubt, Persevere, And Prove Your Worth

Poet of code and Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert, Dr. Joy Buolamwini, is the founder of Algorithmic Justice League, an organization dedicated to raising public awareness and empowering advocates, communities, and other stakeholders to mitigate the effects and harms of AI bias. Buolamwini’s journey began with personal experiences of algorithmic discrimination, fueling her goal to create a world with more equitable and accountable technology.


DR. JOY: As a woman of color in technology, expect to be discredited. Expect your research to be dismissed. But even if people underestimate you, if your mission is worthy, it's still worth it to continue.


If you see something that's important to you and something that's important to your community — even if you're in spaces that don't quite get it, even if they want to be supportive — that perseverance with the vision when you know what you're focused on, helping your community, is worth holding on to.


Dr. Joy smiling with her hands out.

Own Your Identity As Your Superpower

An inspiring speaker and visionary leader for the U.S. Hispanic community, Claudia Romo Edelman is the Founder & CEO of We Are All Human, a non-profit foundation with the mission of advocating for every human to be respected and empowered by focusing on our common humanity.


CLAUDIA: I am where I am today because I am a Latina, not despite being a Latina. When you're able to really embrace that at the core, myself, my identity is my superpower, then I think that you're turning and looking at the world from a very different position – a position of power.


Think of this as an invitation for all of us to be authentic to who we are and start looking at our data, and start looking at our reality, and flip the script so that we can all be in a position of power.


Read on for David’s top 10 tips to become a successful SE — whether you’re just starting your career journey or looking to deepen your learning. 


Claudia holds a fist up in a powerful motion.

Connect Beyond Differences, Support One Another

Leah McGowen-Hare, SVP, Trailblazer Community at Salesforce, is passionate about making learning accessible and empowering all to pursue a career in technology. From starting as a software engineer 20 years ago to traveling around the world teaching developers, she was often the only Black woman in the room. Read more about Leah, how her experiences have shaped her career, and her advocacy for increasing representation.


LEAH: Being able to connect with people at a human level is so important to me that it transcends race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class. When you connect with people at a human level, something magical happens and you realize there's more in common than not, and you also realize: “I'm rooting for this person! How can I help this person?”


Leah smiles while on stage.

Remember That Skills > Degrees

Ara Anoshiravani is the National Leader of Education and Workforce Development Managing Director at Deloitte Tax. She talks about Deloitte’s participation in the OneTen initiative, a commitment to hire one million Black Americans without four-year degrees into well-paying jobs over a 10 year period, uplifting and changing the lives of thousands of underrepresented Black Americans.


ARA: Talent is everywhere, opportunity has not been.


Skills-based hiring and focusing on what somebody brings to the table as opposed to a degree they've earned is five times more predictive of their performance over the long-term ... It’s the right thing to do and a business imperative.


Are talking to someone else out of screen.

Prioritize Self-Care For Success

As Chief Training Officer at Thrive Global, Joey Hubbard has dedicated over 30 years to coaching and facilitating motivational seminars to assist individuals and professional organizations in improving their lives, careers, and businesses all over the world. Joey is committed to helping people and workforces find direction, meet goals, and discover fulfillment.


JOEY: What we’ve lost in this idea of trying to be successful — wanting to have things like money, cars, homes, families — is the idea that we have to take care of ourselves along the way. We want to separate the idea that [we] have to burn out to be successful. You have to be well to lead well.


Wellbeing equals performance. Wellbeing equals equity. 


Joey speaking on stage.

Believe In Yourself, Conquer Imposter Syndrome

Laurie Hernandez is a two-time U.S. Olympic Gymnastics medalist, two-time New York Times bestselling author, and current student-actor at New York University. As the youngest and first U.S.-born Latina in over 30 years to attend the Olympics with the U.S. Gymnastic team, Laurie shares her journey navigating different fields as a young woman of color and discovering her identity.


LAURIE: You may feel that way, when you go into a room full of people who have done some crazy things and you’re thinking, “I haven’t done these things, why am I here?” Know you were led into this space because you have the capacity to do these wonderful things. You may not have done them yet, but they’re coming, in whatever way that looks like to you, it’s coming.


Acknowledging your capacity to do what others around you have done, that's kind of how I've — not squashed the imposter syndrome — but given it a little kick in the butt!


Laurie laughing on stage.


Want to catch all the action? Tune into the full recording of the 2023 Representation Matters Summit here!


Representation Matters may be over, but you can still stay in the know about the latest and greatest happenings at Salesforce. Join our Talent Community to get the Salesforce careers news you want, when you want it — from career opportunities to updates on our ongoing equality initiatives.