After a call to Salesforce Thursday in which Benioff allegedly dodged questions about recently announced layoffs in a rambling two-hour speech, the appropriateness of that notion was called into question.
The day before, the software giant had said it would cut about 10% of its workforcenoting that customers were “taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decision” in a “challenging” environment.
In an email to staff about the thousands of layoffs Wednesday, Benioff again evoked “Ohana” and the idea of family ties:
“Affected employees aren’t just colleagues,” he said he wrote. “They’re friends. They’re family. Please reach out to them. Offer the compassion and love they and their families deserve and need now more than ever. And above all, please rely on your leadership, myself included as we navigate this difficult time together.”
‘avoid the topic at hand’
But judging by the reactions to her speech and the unanswered questions, the employees didn’t hear “Ohana.” On an internal Slack channel intended for in-meeting questions, according to Insideran employee asked:
“Given how little of this call addressed the layoffs, the questions asked in this channel, and the ‘family’ that was fired, we should consider retiring the line ‘Ohana?'”
Other posts in the Slack channel reportedly included, “Is Marc stonewalling over 47,600 employees right now by talking in circles and avoiding the topic at hand?” and “I’m sure many of the tens of thousands of people on this call could do things rather than hear an unstructured conversation about the company when most people came with very specific questions they hoped would be answered.”
Benioff appeared to refer to the layoffs briefly in his speech, but in a way that likened them to deaths, according to Insider:
“At kickoff of every year, you know, we, um, have a moment where we always say goodbye to everyone who died during the year,” he said. “And, um, loss is really hard, and losing people, and especially losing our trusted colleagues and our managers or employees, is very similar, uh, in a lot of ways to me. We have to somehow acknowledge that and give ourselves time to grieve and be able to move on.
A company blog posts of 2017 entitled “The Real Meaning Behind ‘Salesforce Community’” states: “In Hawaiian culture, Ohana represents the idea that families, whether blood related, adopted or intentional, are bonded together and that family members are responsible for l ‘of each other. when [Beniofff] created Salesforce in 1999, made sure ‘Ohana’ was at the foundation of the company.”
Salesforce didn’t respond immediately Fortunerequest for comments.