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Vivianne Castillo leaves Salesforce citing ‘rampant microaggressions and gaslighting’

The former manager is the second Black woman to leave the company within weeks citing similar complaints.

Vivianne Castillo leaves Salesforce citing ‘rampant microaggressions and gaslighting’
[Photo: hapabapa/iStock]
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Salesforce has championed itself as a beacon of diversity and inclusion, grounded in social initiatives like Equity for All to promote underrepresented people in business and pledging 1% of its resources to philanthropic causes. But its actual progress to diversify its own headcount has been slow. And now, reports have surfaced from two Black women in prominent positions who have left the company, each citing a toxic culture laden with microaggressions and empty promises toward improvement.

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The first complaint came from Cynthia Perry, a Senior Manager of Research in Business Technology, as she resigned from Salesforce two weeks ago. In an open letter on LinkedIn, she explained, “I have been gaslit, manipulated, bullied, neglected, and mostly unsupported by [redacted]…It’s not a place full of opportunity. It’s not a place of Equality for All. It’s not a place where well-being matters. I am exhausted.”

Yesterday, many of Perry’s sentiments were echoed in an open letter by Vivianne Castillo, who resigned from the company this week. She was a manager of design research and innovation at Salesforce. She’s also the founder of Hmnty Cntrd, a curriculum and network for UX professionals.

In her letter, Castillo likens her experience to that of a canary in the coal mine. However, she leverages that metaphor, not simply to point out a toxic workplace, but to explain the true cost of the unpaid, unsupported labor that minorities often must take on in addition to their hired jobs in corporate cultures.

“I’ve grown tired of watching the canaries of underrepresented minorities go into the coal mines of Salesforce’s culture; I’ve grown tired of watching the canaries of underrepresented minorities experience unchecked harm, only to then turn to the Warmline [Salesforce’s advocacy program for BIPOC employees] to support them through their trauma, rather than Salesforce implementing the accountability required to prevent harm; I’ve grown tired of watching the canaries of underrepresented minorities leave Salesforce, only to watch Salesforce ramp up their efforts to throw more canaries into the culture that caused the previous ones to leave or worse—suffer in silence.”

We have reached out to Salesforce for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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