Corporate Response to Black Lives Matter: How PayPal Stepped Up

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Lisha Bell, one of the most senior executives at PayPal’s family of companies, felt empowered to speak up on behalf of her black colleagues in the workplace. The effect of her actions caused PayPal to join other major corporations who made donations in the black community in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement. The news of pledging over $500 million broke the internet as PayPal chose to support minority-owned businesses. Lisha joins us on today’s show to discuss how the pledge came about, the difficulty – and necessity – of speaking out, and her thoughts on other corporations pledging to give money to the black community in the wake of police brutality. 

Key Question:  How is Corporate America responding in the wake of protests surrounding George Floyd’s murder?

Show Description:

In this podcast, the co-hosts are joined by Lisha Bell, a top executive at Braintree – one of the PayPal group of companies.  She discusses…

About the Show:

Get Found Get Funded is about disrupting the venture-backable startup ecosystem and making it transparent, understandable and accessible 

About Lisha Bell: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lishabell/

Lisha Bell, Product Manager at Braintree (a PayPal company) has spent her career in money movement, also leads the PayPal Black employee association, Amplify. Member of the Pipeline Angels group of angels supporting women-led startups.

Equal parts strategic business leader and consumer champion, Lisha leverages her experience in product strategy, business solutions, and people management to deliver unparalleled customer solutions. 

She’s passionate about solving complex problems, driving innovative solutions, and making the banking world a friendlier, more accessible place. 

Always looking for ways to streamline the customer experience and make transactions more efficient, both in-person and online. 

She’s fluent in “tech speak,” meaning that she can translate complex concepts to the business bottom line. Proud to be recognized for promoting bold ideas, brokering meaningful relationships, and successfully leading global cross-functional teams, Lisha has worked in both startup environments, as well as high-growth larger companies.]

Key Quotes from Show

(05:41)

“My first job out, at a big bank, I led the black employee group in the midst of the subprime lending crisis, uh, where I had direct talks with the CEO about, we need to make this right for black people in communities. So I have been an advocate for a long time.” 

(05:41)

I am relatively new to PayPal. I’ve been there for one year, but within that year, I have stepped up as a leader of our San Francisco, what we call Amplify, our black employee group at PayPal. And I’ve started to, I planted the seed with our executive leadership team about diversity initiatives, diversity progress. So I felt very empowered when all this was going on to be that voice. And start that conversation.

(07:30)

The tech industry generates significant wealth -, it is a leading industry of innovation. As a black person in tech who holds a job for the future, I do feel that we have to be bold and courageous in our walk. Black people are less than 1% in tech. I mean, we will be left behind in this entire industry.

(08:15)

K: As another fellow black woman in tech, I completely understand. I’ve had conversations this week with women who want to leave their corporate jobs. They’re just feeling a lot of pressure. Their bosses, their colleagues are leaning on them, really heavy to educate and to talk. And many of them actually are thinking about jumping into entrepreneurship.

M: (09:53)

The last corporate job I had, I left after the Philando Castile shooting because the company I worked for got a contract at the NRA. I couldn’t do that anymore. And that led me to the position I have now, where I work for the state of Maryland. And I was able to help start the first state backed pre-seed fund specifically for women and minorities. 

(12:06)

I walked into a brain tree, and was easily one of the top black person at the company. And so that’s how I have been in my last few jobs and it’s not because I run everything or I’m the most important person in the company. It’s just, there’s a lot of people that have lower job titles than I, that looked like me. And so I feel personally so compelled when I knew I was being called on to answer questions about the black community or about women – what I would voice back concerns about things that I were seeing that I was seeing and observing. 

(12;25)

Within the company we have call centers and my heart is always for the people at the bottom and supporting call centers are where most black and Brown people sit in the organization. Just so you know, when they give tech numbers, that’s the number.

(13:30)

I’ve spent a lot of time of Chicago, working with that group [of Black millennials] and talking with that group and because of my privilege, of my role,I could be a more vocal voice to executives that they can’t.

(15:11)

M: I know a lot of people, myself included where when these moments come up, we feel this weight and we’re not always sure how to act, or don’t always have the courage to, and are always fearful about if we were to act things would happen. But, you know, we are seeing the power. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of the role in tech to give back the wealth it generates to the communities it serves
  • The role of executives to speak out for those coming up 
  • The importance of building a foundation of relationships with people in power so you can speak out when the time comes
  • The difficulty for Black employees right now getting asked questions and having to do the emotional labor in Corporate America
  • Sometimes, when things get hard enough, it’s time to leave your job – if speaking up isn’t enough

Items Mentioned in the Show/Resources:

Lisha’s article on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/white-joy-midst-black-rage-lisha-bell/

White Supremacy in Tech: https://marker.medium.com/its-time-we-dealt-with-white-supremacy-in-tech-8f7816fe809

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