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raceAhead: PayPal and SAP CEOs on Diversity

October 16, 2018, 9:38 PM UTC

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.”

On Point

Can men be better allies to women?Yes, but it’s not a simple path. W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith, professors and co-authors of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, think that most initiatives focused on women only miss the mark. “Individualistic approaches to solving gender inequities overlook systemic structural causes and reinforce the perception that these are women’s issues—effectively telling men they don’t need to be involved,” they write in HBR. They argue that including men in women’s initiatives—by inviting them to women’s conferences and to attend female-centric ERGs, etc—can help, but it’s important to note the social cost that men play for identifying as allies. They cite research that suggests that men who are less self-promoting and more collaborative are seen by both men and women as less competent and less masculine. Ouch.HBR

Here’s a snapshot of Hispanic voters
With midterm fever gripping the United States, it’s worth understanding the behavior of Latinx voters over the last ten years. The news is decidedly mixed. Some 12.8% of all eligible voters are now Latinx, adding up to some 29 million voters, boosted in some part by young Latinx coming of age. But according to Pew Research, Latinx voter turn-out for midterm elections has declined markedly since 2006. Although their numbers have been growing across the U.S., some 71% of eligible Hispanic voters live in just six states—California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Illinois.
Pew Research

The resilience of Keith Ellison
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is under fire, facing allegations of physical and emotional of abuse from his former partner, Karen Monahan. Ellison has denied the allegations, and now a painful back-and-forth threatens to overshadow his public service. But unlike other public officials—Ellison is also currently the Democratic nominee for Minnesota's attorney general position—he hasn’t been canceled yet. The Root posits that it’s because his denials are believable. “The allegations appear to reflect a rocky relationship, not an abusive one,” members of Democratic leadership have told them. Ellison has also taken the allegations seriously. “He has asked for a House Ethics Committee investigation, so he’s not running from it and that goes a long way in helping people to decide whether or not you are telling the truth,” one DNC member tells The Root.
The Root


The Woke Leader

Why the golden age of diversity in television never materialized
Here’s a fascinating nugget of history shared by raceAhead treasure Katrina Jones.  The 1940s and ‘50s saw the dawn of the television age, and an opportunity to change the culture by showcasing diverse stories and voices that could have reinforced the promise of a equal and equitable America. And in fact, at the start of the Cold War, a group of progressive women were poised to do just that. What happened? An FBI-created blacklist, labeling them Communists and dissidents, shut them out of the growing industry. A new book, The Broadcast 41: Women and the Anti-Communist Blacklist by Carol A. Stabile, uses archival documents to explain why we got Leave It To Beaver instead.
Smithsonian Magazine

Are you a person of color? An ethnic minority? The trouble with all the words
Media Diversified asked ten writers to plumb the depths of the words the world uses to talk about people who aren’t white. There are an embarrassment of riches, many problematic, to identify a wide swath of people who are in no way an actual “minority,” and yet there is no consensus as to how to move forward. I learned some new acronyms from other lands, ‘BME’ for black and minority ethnic, and ‘BAME’, for black, Asian and minority ethnic. But ‘minority ethnic’ is nebulous at best - what about white Latinx? “This leaves ‘people of colour’ as the sole collective term for people who do not benefit from white supremacy, without placing whiteness as the default as the term ‘non-white’ does,” says Jude Wanga. How specific do we get? “How about Melanated Peoples?” asks Lee Pinkerton. “[T]hat includes Africa, the Caribbean and Asia and is certainly inclusive and a unifying concept, that puts us firmly in the global majority.”
Media Diversified

A teen filmmaker takes on human trafficking
Sakshi Satpathy is a 16-year-old high schooler with an astonishing second career who doubles as a documentary filmmaker in her spare time. Her three films on child marriage, trafficking, and gender equity have been screened in fifteen countries; she’s also created a curriculum to help previously trafficked girls transition back into a healthy life. It’s all part of a broader initiative she calls Project GREET: Girl Rights: Engage, Empower, Train. Satpathy is also a Girl Scout, and was recently awarded the Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor. Click through for an inspirational Q&A with the filmmaker, who had to learn every aspect of her craft, from camera work to interview skills. “I was really surprised by what I learned,” she said. “I had believed that all parents who would let their daughters marry so early must be bad people. But I had not taken into account external and root causes, such as terrible poverty and not being able to afford to feed another mouth.”


I think it is important for others to give back for two reasons – first, it is necessary, and second, it is rewarding. We live in an interconnected society where we depend on others for everything, and our standard of living, and social and physical wellbeing is dependent on how we are treated by society. For our society to be truly equitable and fully functioning, we need all hands on deck to contribute where help is needed most.
Sakshi Satpathy