by Josie Cox
Originally published: June 14, 2017
He’s a CEO by title and character, but not the kind you probably think. Amid a sea of white, alpha males dominating the c-suites of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, Tony Prophet stands out. For one thing he’s black. He’s also softly-spoken, sharply dressed and speaks in a way that’s almost poetically rhythmic. He’s got a chiselled face, which makes him look at least a decade and a half younger than his 58 years, and perhaps, most unusually, he jumps at the opportunity to talk about issues that are still tragically considered a taboo in many corporate circles: sexuality, gender and the ugly face of discrimination in all its guises, across an industry proudly claiming to be achingly progressive.
Prophet, a former high-flying Microsoft executive, was last year appointed chief equality officer for San Francisco-based Salesforce, one of the biggest cloud computing companies in the world and one of the fastest growing too. Other businesses have chief diversity officers but Salesforce is the first major public company to appoint someone with exactly Prophet’s title – the other CEO, if you will, and arguably one that’s just as important as its namesake.