TORONTO – Navdeep Bains’ May 3 appearance at Salesforce.com Inc.’s Toronto World Tour was short, but he made it count.
While discussing the CRM giant’s new $100 million USD investment into Canadian startups with Salesforce President and CFO Mark Hawkins, the minister of innovation, science and economic development said he was especially pleased by how well Salesforce and the federal government’s goals were in alignment – especially its commitments to innovation and its people, with Bains calling Canadians themselves, and not the companies or investments which have made us one of the top startup ecosystems in the world, the country’s true “secret sauce.”
“[I have] a pretty cool gig… but really what it’s about is creating an environment that’s open,” Bains said. “Canada’s brand… is open. We’re open to investment. We’re open to trade. And we’re open to people. And that’s really our secret sauce.”
“Look around the room, and what makes Canada so amazing – you see it right here,” he continued. “We firmly believe in investing in people… we want to make a big bet in education. And so when we talk about innovation, it’s not always about the technologies or the latest gadgets or apps, it’s really about the people.”
During his presentation, Hawkins said Salesforce believes in five ideals, which he noted CEO Marc Benioff discussed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the latter’s visit to Salesforce headquarters in February:
- Public Education: That every child deserves a world-class education;
- Equal Pay: Salesforce has famously spent $8.7 million USD and counting to even the pay gap – and continues to update the amount it pays out to even the field every year;
- LGBTQ Equality: Equality for every human being;
- Equal Opportunity: Inclusion for all in what Salesforce calls “the fourth industrial revolution” (following steam, electricity, and computing) – information; and
- Environment: Protecting our planet for future generations.
These too are goals shared by Canada’s Liberal government, Bains said.
“We’re making big, big bets on lifelong learning,” he said. “For example, we just announced a $50 million investment to help one billion kids learn to code over the next two years.”
But more important than coding, Bains said, is literacy – helping young people educate themselves about the changing economy, so they have the confidence to enter it head on.
“You talked about the fourth industrial revolution,” Bains told Hawkins. “It’s a great opportunity, and we’re not here to defend the status quo. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, and we want to make sure that we invest in young people and develop a pipeline so companies like yourself have access to the best talent in the world.”