Culture, Brand & the Board.

Author:Tahmincioglu, Eve
Position:EDITOR'S NOTE - Editorial

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, got a letter from his employees recently asking him to sever the company's ties with U.S. Customs and Border Protection because of the agency's enforcement of the Trump administration's policies to separate children from their families at the border.

The letter published by Buzzfeed stated, "Many of us choose to work at Salesforce because of Salesforce's reputation as a company that stands up against injustice."

Benioff sent a response, obtained by Bloomberg:

"I'm opposed to separating children from their families at the border. It is immoral. I also wrote to the White House to encourage them to end this horrible situation."

The company ultimately decided not to sever ties.

The exchange, however, is just one example of how deep the sense of purpose runs through Salesforce as an organization.

Benioff can take a lot of credit for that. He is considered one of the most effective brand and culture drivers in corporate America today, and it's a role CEOs and all top managers should play, says Denise Lee Yohn, a brand leadership consultant and the author of Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World's Greatest Companies.

"He has grown that organization to be so successful because he's the culture champion for the organization," she explains. But, she has a warning for boards.

"If you only put it on the CEO then that is risky. You could end up with a situation like Ubers CEO Travis Kalanick who ruined the culture of that company," she says. "The board needs to be actively involved and have active conversations with the CEOs and other leaders."

Most boards, she continues, separate strategy from culture and brand. "They see their role as focusing on strategy and don't understand that...

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