FORTUNE -- Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg has a lot of advice for women who want to advance in their careers. This week, she also took her Lean In message to Salesforce.com (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff and the throngs of conference-goers at the cloud computing company's annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
Sandberg, one of the most powerful business leaders in Silicon Valley, didn't veer much from her usual leadership lingo. "Instead of telling little girls they're being bossy," she said, "tell them they have executive leadership skills." But she did have some specific advice for Benioff, who peppered her with questions for nearly an hour.
"If, as a CEO, you are willing to talk about this and address gender head on, it's a great competitive advantage," Sandberg told Benioff during their onstage conversation. She added that it is not illegal to talk to an employee about pregnancy, just illegal to discriminate against someone because they are pregnant.
Sandberg also told Benioff that in order to help promote a more equal working environment at Salesforce, he should dig deep into the organization to find female leaders and even give them some seemingly unfair advantages -- for example, invite a few to a meeting for top managers, even if they are lower down on the org chart.
Why? According to Sandberg, it is a way to fight against the systematic bias against women in the workplace. Statistics show that women continue to lag men in promotions and wages. In order to level the playing field, corporate leaders like Benioff need to lead by example -- inviting more women to the table, for example, and calling out execs who complain that a woman is being too "aggressive" at work.
Sandberg also suggested that mentoring and sponsoring employees can play a big role in getting more women to the top. Because 64% of managers in the U.S. are "afraid to be alone in the room with a woman," Sandberg claimed, it is not always easy to find men who are willing to mentor women. (Not that a mentor has to be a man, of course.) "There is no mentoring that happens in a large group," Sandberg said. "You have to able to have alone conversations. We need to make it a badge of honor for the people in power, who are largely men, to mentor and sponsor young women. And it's a huge issue."
Despite the thousands of people before her in the audience, Sandberg didn't hesitate to raise a slightly more sensitive data point to back her claims: Men who do laundry are likely to have more sex than men who don't. "The data shows that when men are more active partners in their marriages, their wives are happier," she said. "Happier couples have more sex. So I've been telling men all over the country and the world: If you want to have more sex with your wives, don't buy flowers, do laundry."
The company's latest file-syncing product is better, yes. Will it draw in streams of new customers? Not likely.
FORTUNE -- Does the world really need another file storage service? Probably not, but Salesforce.com (CRM) claims its new product, Salesforce Files, isn't just any ordinary "repository."
The San Francisco-based company announced an earlier version of the tool, a file-sharing service called Chatterbox, at last year's Dreamforce event (its annual customer lovefest, hosted by MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Sep 6, 2013 12:13 PM ET
Long-time opponents are teaming up.
FORTUNE -- It's the end of an era. Or the beginning of one, as Oracle and Salesforce.com would describe it. The formerly sparring enterprise tech companies hosted a conference call for press and analysts Thursday afternoon, in which they outlined a new, nine-year partnership through which their respective cloud-based applications will work hand-in-hand.
"The value we can provide to customers is just awesome," said Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Jun 28, 2013 9:28 AM ET
Ahrendts is making Burberry (yes, Burberry) into an innovation machine.
By Beth Kowitt, writer
FORTUNE -- Last May, Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts flew to California from her London headquarters to introduce herself to an executive she thought could be critical to the future of her business: Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. When the two met at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, they stood in the hall batting around ideas for 15 MOREJun 5, 2012 5:00 AM ET
Marc Benioff has the mind of a fox and the body of a bear. He's also a super salesman who's built a Bay Area giant that employees love for being prosperous and good.
By David A. Kaplan, contributor
FORTUNE -- It took a Reuben sandwich and Dr. Brown's Cream Soda to close the deal.
Nobody's as good at salesmanship in the world of high tech as Marc Benioff, the nimble and gregarious MOREJan 19, 2012 7:00 AM ET
When Salesforce employees fall ill, the company provides more than insurance. Marc Benioff calls, tweets -- and picks up thousands in extra costs.
By David A. Kaplan, contributor
FORTUNE -- John Greene thought he worked for a pretty good company. Then, at 40, he got cancer -- and found out for sure.
In November 2010, after he'd been in Salesforce (CRM) engineering R&D for barely a year, Greene was diagnosed with acute myeloid MOREJan 19, 2012 7:00 AM ET
FORTUNE -- Fierce competitors need, well, fierce competitors. The latest smack-down? Oracle (ORCL) billionaire CEO Larry Ellison vs. Salesforce.com (CRM) billionaire CEO Marc Benioff. Benioff once worked for Ellison, who later invested in Salesforce.com, the cloud-computing software company. No matter: Now the two battle for customers -- as well as bragging rights as the world's most visible software mogul. The rivalry is getting testy: Recently Ellison canceled Benioff's keynote at the MORENov 28, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Three years ago, CEO Larry Ellison trashed the cloud, calling the idea 'gibberish.' Now, he's changed his tune, trying to embrace the cloud. Question is, does the cloud really want to embrace Oracle?
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE – First, Oracle ignored the cloud. Then Larry Ellison, its CEO, ridiculed the cloud. And now Oracle is trying to buy its way into the cloud. The question is: what exactly does the cloud MORENov 3, 2011 1:45 PM ET
At Dreamforce, cloud-guru Marc Benioff converts Salesforce.com's most successful product -- social collaboration tool Chatter -- from paid to free.
Marc Benioff wants to make enterprise software more like Facebook—social, viral and mobile. It's all part of the Salesforce.com CEO's master plan to extend beyond his core customer base, sales professionals.
That's why Salesforce.com (CRM) is launching a free version of Chatter, its social collaboration tool for enterprises. Benioff announced the new MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Dec 8, 2010 1:01 PM ET
Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff shows that he knows how to work a room, at Larry Ellison's expense.
I'm convinced that the ability to promote one's self or one's company is an innate rather than a learned trait. That doesn't mean someone can't try. But they'll never be as good as the born showman, like, for example, the chief executive of Salesforce.com (CRM), Marc Benioff. (To many, he's still The Big Benioff, as MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Nov 24, 2010 9:22 AM ET
|AT&T cuts prices again|
|Can Fox's reboot of 'Cosmos' find an audience?|
|Winners and losers of the bull market|
|The medical marijuana ad that never aired, despite contrary media headlines|
|How to tell your kid you can't afford her dream college|