The Leadership Series: Change is Testing Our Readiness to Lead with Values in the Middle East

Thierry Nicault, Salesforce
Thierry Nicault, Salesforce

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is forcing all of us to re-imagine how we live our everyday lives and do business in the Middle East. It’s transforming society, not least in the way we work and how we view the role of business. It is also testing to what extent companies’ values are reflected in their actions. How they behave now will shape the way they – and business in general – will be viewed after the crisis.

At Salesforce, we believe that business is the greatest platform for change. And that’s true now more than ever. Our top priority is playing our part in support of our employees, customers and communities. On a national and global scale we’re working to keep our employees across the business updated on developments relevant to them; we’re providing practical support to help them adjust to the world of remote working. We’re also looking out for our peoples’ mental health at this time through facilitating online wellbeing sessions, among other initiatives.

To support our customers in the Middle East and worldwide, in March we launched Salesforce Care solutions, granting free access to some of our products to help organizations across any industry to stay connected to their stakeholders, respond to inquiries fast, eliminate repetitive tasks, and deliver important digital content related to the coronavirus. 

This month we announced Salesforce Care for Manufacturing which will specifically support manufacturers who are pivoting their operations and reallocating resources to produce critical pandemic relief supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and virus testing equipment. 

We also recognise that times of change require workforces to learn and re-skill – offering free training programs through our Trailhead platform will help them prepare for the future.

We’re stepping up for our communities too. So far we’ve donated a total of $5.5M to organizations on the front lines of the crisis. Across our global markets in particular, in April we donated $1.5 million to support the hardest hit regions with a focus on mitigation and direct relief for vulnerable populations. We will continue to look at where we can extend this investment to support the most vulnerable.

With humility, we cannot say exactly when this crisis will end and what its full impact will be. However, with empathy, we can try to understand the needs of our stakeholders and reassure them that help is at hand.

Supporting and Re-skilling Employees

Over recent weeks, the lengths to which Middle East organizations have gone to put their values into action has been inspiring; to keep their workforce safe and ease levels of stress among employees who, in addition to looking after themselves and their loved ones, have had to adjust to new ways of working.

Other organisations, where employees’ workloads have been negatively affected by the pandemic, rather than letting go of or furloughing staff they’ve sought to re-deploy them elsewhere in the company and re-skill them entirely. This is crucial not just as companies prepare to overcome the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, but ensuring that employees are equipped with the skills they need in a world that’s becoming rapidly digitized not through choice but necessity.

This commitment to supporting and re-skilling others, empowering them with the tools to make the most of opportunities now and into the future, is incredible.

Customers Stepping up for Communities

The urgency for Middle East businesses to give back to our communities has never been greater. We’re proud to see our customers around the world applying technology to address challenges that the pandemic has created – innovating to benefit their business and also communities by ensuring their safety.

The technology industry has a unique part to play throughout this pandemic in keeping people connected, helping organisations embrace digital transformation, and in innovating for the good of society. Our companies have a responsibility to ensure that our core products, services and digital infrastructure can and will support the shift to virtual working and living. 

For those of us in leadership roles, in particular, our mission must be to ensure that the innovations that come from this pandemic are retained for the long-term benefit of everyone. Only then will we be able to show that business really is the greatest platform for change.

Creating a better workplace

Leading through change can be daunting, but the journey does provide opportunities to build better businesses and strengthen our values and shared sense of culture along the way. For instance, at Salesforce with technology we’re enabling greater transparency and forging pathways for everyone to join all-company conversations.

Conclusion

At Salesforce, when we commit to using our technology, resources and influence for good, we’re putting our core values of trust, customer success, equality and innovation into action which have guided us since day one. The events of this public health crisis will show us what’s in the DNA of Middle East organisations. Their very success may depend on how ready they are to put their own values into action.

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