Don't Talk Diversity, Live It! Panel at RSA 2017

RSA Conference 2017 Diversity Panel - IOActive - Twistlock - Salesforce - MKA Cyber

Jennifer Steffens  |  Chenxi Wang  |  Leyla Seka  |  Mischel Kwon


By Chenxi Wang

Leyla Seka and Cindy Robbins marched into Marc Benioff’s office on a June day in 2015 and made the startling claim: “We don’t pay men and women equally here at Salesforce.”

“That can’t be right. That’s not how we do things here.” Benioff’s first response was incredulity, but Robbins and Sake persisted. Benioff ordered an internal salary review of its 16,000 employees (not a trivial taking in itself) and found that women were indeed paid less than men of equal qualifications and rankings within Salesforce.

The rest is history. Salesforce made headline news when Benioff spent over $3 million to erase the gender pay gap.

Both Sake and Robbins were that kind of executive—not afraid of verging into uncomfortable areas and blazing trails. And Benioff was that kind of CEO, someone who is not afraid to look into the story data presents and doing the right thing.

But can other companies replicate what Benioff did at Salesforce? And what other measures can we adopt to foster diversity in the workplace?

What about expanding your definition of “workplace diversity”? What if “workplace diversity,” often considered a nice-to-have characteristic, is really a necessity for bringing creative and robust solutions to a diverse user group?

What about promoting a defined career path and development plan for every employee in the company, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation? Can a female computer science student join your company and carve out a reasonably successful career path just like her male peers?

What about changing your recruiting and job descriptions to remove hidden barriers for non-traditional applicants? Where should you even start to make these changes?

These and other burning issues are what I’ll be discussing on our upcoming RSA panel “Don’t Talk Diversity, Live It!” We don’t want yet another women in technology panel where we get together to discuss the lack of diversity in the cybersecurity industry or how women balance work and motherhood. The world does not need another panel like that. We want to sink our teeth into the discussions of real measures that actually promote diversity. We want to explore, share, and encourage others to adopt them and, in the process, truly embrace diversity as a core business principle.

Indeed, my two panelists, Jennifer Steffens, CEO of IOActive, and Mischel Kwon, CEO of MKA Cyber, share the same vision. Steffens said, “I think the industry as a whole overall agrees that diversity is both lacking today and a critical component of our future. It’s time to move from ‘diversity is a problem’ talks to doing something real about it. I am doing that at IOActive with a team of hackers supporting each move. It's important to remember that small steps add up to big change but only if you take that first step.”

I am also happy to report that Leyla Seka will join us on this panel to share her experience on helping to erase the pay gap at Salesforce.

Please join me, Jennifer, Mischel, and Leyla on February 13th for the “Don’t Talk Diversity, Live It!” panel at RSA Conference 2017.


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About Dr. Chenxi Wang

Dr. Chenxi Wang is Chief Strategy Officer of Twistlock and co-founder of the Equal Respect column on ITSPmagazine. She is responsible for corporate strategy and marketing. Chenxi built an illustrious career at Forrester Research, Intel Security, and CipherCloud.

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