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Actionable news in CRM: SALESFORCE.COM Inc,’s Marc Benioff Focuses on Many Stakeholders

The Wall Street Journal’s Monica Langley spoke with Mr. Benioff about corporations taking on causes. Here are edited excerpts of the discussion.

Stakeholder value

MS. LANGLEY: You have used your clout in social causes.

MR. BENIOFF: I have individuals, stakeholders, that are very important to me. Because they’re part of my company. My customers are my stakeholders. My partners are my stakeholders. My employees are my stakeholders.

I have other stakeholders, too. I even consider the communities that we live in are stakeholders. The environment is a stakeholder. We cannot do our business without that. But in regards to our employees, you have to understand that, for example, when we were in Indiana earlier this year, and the employees are calling me, and they’re saying, “Look, we have gay employees who are going to experience discrimination from the government of [Indiana]. What are you going to do about it?” Then I have an obligation, as the CEO of the company, to represent their interests. And so that was kind of the RFRA discussion. And we led that. And it wasn’t just me. It was a lot of people who joined me.

You read all about these CEOs who are maniacally focused on shareholder value. Short-termism. But there’s this theory that if you’re going to successfully manage and lead a...