By Ellen McGirt
Updated: October 16, 2018 5:42 PM ET

I spent the morning with two busy tech CEOs who made it clear that diversity and inclusion is simply non-negotiable in the modern world. And yet, inequity persists. Bill McDermott, CEO of German tech giant SAP says, “It’s wild to me that we’re still having the conversation around women in leadership.” SAP has doubled the number of women in key management roles in the last five years.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman agreed that while the business case for inclusion is clear, the moral case is as well.

My colleague Phil Wahba covered our panel at Fortune Global Forum today:

“It starts at the very top,” PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said. “There’s no negotiation around it. We will be stronger as a result.” Schulman also quoted the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (and father of current Canadian leader Justin Trudeau) who once said that “diversity is fact, but inclusion is a choice.”

And that choice can sometimes lead a company to tread into tricky social issues. In early 2017, PayPal canceled plans to open a new facility in North Carolina after the state government there passed a controversial law related to the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals the company saw as targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

He’s now used to getting death threats, unfortunately.

But while his stand was clear, he acknowledged that he was not making these decisions in a vacuum. “It was a galvanizing moment for us because basically the values on the wall came alive,” Schulman said. While he didn’t expect everyone in the company to share those values as individuals, it mattered that the company as a whole was being consistent with their stated values.

“I don’t think businesses can avoid the issues of our day,” he said. “There is a moral responsibility to step up, to be part of the solution.”


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