Marc Benioff, Jessica Alba, Patricia Arquette Focus on Women and Diversity at Dreamforce - NBC Bay Area
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Marc Benioff, Jessica Alba, Patricia Arquette Focus on Women and Diversity at Dreamforce

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A day after Carly Fiorina shined at the second Republican presidential debate and helped the GOP gain traction with women, women's leadership and equality was the big topic at the Dreamforce tech conference in San Francisco Thursday. Scott Budman reports. (Published Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015)

    A day after Carly Fiorina shined at the second Republican presidential debate and helped the GOP gain traction with women, women's leadership and equality was the big topic at Dreamforce in San Francisco Thursday.

    Everyone from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to Hollywood stars Patricia Arquette and Jessica Alba took part in the Women's Leadership Summit at the annual tech conference to talk about the importance of hiring more women in technology and equal pay. 

    "Just like we have been the company that has pioneered cloud networking in the technology industry, we want to pioneer this to make it a serious part of who we are," Benioff told NBC Bay Area.

    “We really have to look at what's going on with women in America right now. We can't wait 50 years," Arquette, a big supporter of wage equality, said. The Academy Award winner and activist was speaking at a panel about women and equality at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Arquette urged women to use the power of social media to communicate with other women and empower them. "I won the award for all the invisible women we don't see every day," she said.

    Benioff stressed that Salesforce had made it a point to feature women in Dreamforce keynotes.

    "What we're trying to do is make this a call to action ... for other companies going forward," said Cindy Robbins, VP of global employee success, who spearheaded Salesforce's commitment to equal pay.

    Actress Jessica Alba, who co-founded The Honest Company, discussed the challenges women face when starting their own business at a panel that included YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. “I love when we hire people who are parents, because I know they are going to multitask,” Alba said to applause from the audience.

    Wojcicki said that all students should be required to take computer science at school to get them interested in tech from an early age.

    One of Thursday's highlights was 10-year-old Lauren Boyle, who is the European Digital Girl of the Year. "I want to start my own company," Lauren, who is from Ireland, told Suzanne DiBianca, president of the Salesforce Foundation. Lauren advocates for girls in the STEM field and has developed multiple website and apps.

    "The mindset is that it's boring or geeky but it's not - it's actually really cool," Lauren said, when asked why more young girls aren't that excited about coding and technology.

    Women were everywhere at Dreamforce Thursday — executives, engineers, students, all trying to encourage others to get involved.

    "People have to change their attitude about what makes a successful company ... It's important to have as many voices as possible." said Re/Code's Kara Swisher, who discussed women in technology with Benioff for a panel entitled “#leanintogether."

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