After Salesforce’s Chief People Officer offended some employees during a Pride event, the company edited his comments out of a recording and deleted a related Slack thread

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  • Salesforce’s Brent Hyder offended some employees during the company’s LGBTQ+ Pride month kickoff.
  • “Kicking off Pride month with being told to embrace the hate leveled at my communities,” one employee wrote.
  • The company later removed Hyder’s comments from a recording of the event and deleted a Slack thread about them.

Salesforce President and Chief People Officer Brent Hyder offended some employees during the company’s annual LGBTQ+ Pride month kickoff and the company later removed his comments from a recording of the event and deleted a Slack thread on the topic, according to a recording and internal messages viewed by Insider.

Hyder spoke during the event as the executive sponsor of Salesforce’s Outforce employee group for “out and proud, LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer) members and allies.” Because Salesforce removed the comments from the recording, Insider has not verified Hyder’s exact comments and Salesforce repeatedly declined to provide Insider with a transcript of Hyder’s comments. But according to people who heard them, Hyder made a number of controversial statements including that members of the LGBTQ+ community should compromise with opponents.

“Kicking off Pride month with being told to embrace the hate leveled at my communities,” one employee wrote in a Slack channel called airing of grievances in a thread viewed by Insider and later deleted by Salesforce. A note posted to the Slack thread prior to its deletion said “parts of the conversation have become disrespectful and no longer reflect our Code of Conduct.”

“We respect our employees’ varying perspectives and understand that interpretations can differ,” a Salesforce spokesperson said. “It’s our understanding from the leaders and many members of our LGBTQ+ community who were on our Pride Month call that Brent’s comments were appropriate and have been inaccurately represented, as relayed to Insider. For example, Brent did not say anyone should embrace hate.”

Hyder also spoke about flying a Pride flag outside his house and worried his property would be toilet-papered as a result, which some employees felt trivialized issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, according to messages in Slack channels.

“Brent Hyder’s message for us on Pride kickoff: ‘I’m a straight white conservative Christian male and I don’t really understand y’all but I’m going to put my Pride flag up in my conservative neighborhood this year even though teenagers might TP my house I am SO BRAVE you’re WELCOME,” one employee wrote in a Slack channel for transgender and non-binary Salesforce employees, and Salesforce employee parents of trans and non-binary children. “My favorite part was equating trans people losing healthcare and rights to flying a flag,” another wrote in the airing of grievances channel.

When Salesforce later posted a recording of the June 1 kickoff meeting, Hyder’s section was missing. Employees asked why Hyder’s comments had been removed, to which a company representative responded on Slack: “The Office of Equality and Outforce leadership took into consideration the impact that some comments during the Q&A had on members of the community, so the replay focuses on the main presentation about Pride month.”

Some employees criticized the decision to remove Hyder’s comments. “This is a way to avoid saying they did anything wrong or even holding the dude who said them accountable (as well as no one stopping him),” one employee wrote in the Slack channel for transgender employees. “At least I now know we can follow the example and selectively edit recorded meetings to remove things we don’t like,” another wrote.

Hyder does not appear to have addressed the controversy directly, but posted a message to the Outforce Slack group about a week later to “reaffirm” his commitment as an ally and executive sponsor of the group.

“I recognize that the LGBTQ+ community is under attack on a global scale, and I’m committed to supporting you as an ally and to advocating for marginalized communities. I am grateful to those who help me grow and learn so I can be a stronger ally in the future,” he wrote. “I am exploring opportunities to have deeper conversations with you about the issues you face today. Let’s continue to have dialogue and hold space for each other to learn and grow.”

“Allyship is a constant journey,” Billy Lewis, a Salesforce employee who was global head of Outforce for four years, said in an interview arranged by Salesforce. “I walked away from the call knowing Brent showed up and is trying to be the best ally he can.”

Jessica Romig, a Salesforce employee who is transgender, did not attend the Pride kickoff but said Hyder asked to meet with her within 24 hours of the meeting to better understand issues facing the transgender community. Hyder, she said, has been responsible for initiatives at Salesforce that improve the lives of transgender employees, including providing emotional and physical support, and offering relocation for employees who live in political climates that restrict their rights.

“I look at the bigger picture and I was always taught actions speak louder than words, and when I see Brent I see someone whose actions and words are those of an ally,” she said in an interview arranged by Salesforce.

“Our LGBTQ+ leaders have told us Brent is one of the most significant allies of the company’s LGBTQ+ community, having sponsored the development of our LGBTQ+ benefits and spoken out on the behalf of the community for years,” the Salesforce spokesperson said. “Allies of all our employee resource groups deserve the respect and support of our communities. If there are varying interpretations or misunderstandings, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow together, and shouldn’t be used to criticize and inflame. Salesforce has a long history of standing up for equality and it’s our commitment to continue to foster a safe place for our communities and allies to come together and advance our collective cause.”

Another employee, who asked to remain anonymous because they aren’t authorized to speak to the press, said they just want Salesforce to take accountability.

“We’re fine with making mistakes, but we want some sort of acknowledgement,” the employee said. “Allyship is about making mistakes, You can get things wrong, I get things wrong. It’s fine as long as you just try. I don’t expect you to be perfect, just come to the table and try. In this case, Salesforce did not acknowledge any mistake.”

Are you a tech-industry employee or do you have insight to share? Contact Ashley Stewart via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]).

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