BUSINESS

One Of Donald Trump's Quietest Critics Just Called Him Out On Diversity

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has tried to keep quiet, but this week may have been too much.
Donald Trump made his most aggressive appeal yet to African-American voters on Tuesday, but he convened a mostly white,
Donald Trump made his most aggressive appeal yet to African-American voters on Tuesday, but he convened a mostly white, male roundtable the next day.

Marc Benioff doesn’t want to talk about Donald Trump. Rather than give more airtime to the bombastic Republican presidential nominee, the Salesforce chief prefers to plug Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for whom he raised $500,000 earlier this year.

But on Wednesday, Benioff called Trump out for holding a televised campaign meeting about security with about two dozen people, almost all of whom appear to be white men. The move came a day after he delivered a speech aggressively appealing to black voters. 

Two women do appear to be sitting at the end of the table, according to Reuters footage of the meeting. Still, Trump’s tone-deafness a day after he attempted to woo African-Americans by speaking in a 94.8 percent white Milwaukee suburb underscores the extent to which Trump’s campaign as a whole ― and not just the candidate’s crass rhetoric ― has gone out of its way to alienate minority and female voters. 

Benioff, for his part, isn’t a perfect beacon of inclusivity. The workforce at his cloud computing giant remains 67 percent white. Hispanics make up 4 percent, and African-Americans just 2 percent, of Salesforce employees.

But that’s not a problem that’s unique to Salesforce ― it reflects hiring trends in the tech industry, which began grappling with its lack of diversity a few years ago. In the past year, Benioff spent $3 million to eliminate the gender pay gap at Salesforce and publicly protested against laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. 

Benioff did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post. Neither did Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman. 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been a vocal advocate for women and LGBTQ people. 
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been a vocal advocate for women and LGBTQ people. 

Until recently, Benioff has stayed fairly quiet about the Republican nominee to amplify his reasons to vote for someone ― in this case, Clinton ― rather than his reasons to vote against someone else.

Benioff’s relative silence seemed to signal a departure from his usual style. He comments on progressive political issues almost daily, mostly to his roughly 244,000 Twitter followers. He has spearheaded almost every corporate charge against state laws that either legalize discrimination against queer people based on “religious freedom” or prevent trans individuals from using bathrooms associated with their gender identities. 

In response to a HuffPost article probing his low-profile opposition to Trump, Benioff said he preferred to advocate against the Republican behind the scenes. When other CEOs and entrepreneurs email him to ask how to deal with Trump, he said he answers, “If you want to defeat Donald Trump and you’re that upset about him, then you should support Hillary Clinton, which is what I’m doing.” 

On Wednesday, in an apparent attempt to get his faltering campaign back on track, Trump named Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon as his new chief executive. This has been widely interpreted as a sign that Trump will intensify his uncivil, scorched-earth campaign tactics. And if that happens, even Trump’s quietest critics may be tempted to weigh in before November’s votes are cast.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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