PayPal has come under fire for hosting a panel on gender equality with only the men at the company on stage. They insist that the criticism is missing the point of the panel discussion and its larger context. As some organizers pointed out “gender equality is not just a women’s issue.”
— EqualRightsAdvocates (@EqualRightsAdv) April 21, 2016
The backlash was almost immediate, but might have missed the purpose of the meeting, according to its organizers, Unity, Women@PayPal. The group’s president, Nolwenn Godard, released a statement on Facebook, explaining that the flyer unfortunately did not include the event’s full title.
“For this panel our intent is to bring together our male allies to work with us on inclusion. The title of the panel is ‘Gender Equality and Inclusion in the Workplace: a Conversation with our Male Allies.’ Unfortunately the full title and the intention of the panel did not make it on to the initial posters that have been subject of commentary.”
Of course, the explanation did not stop the criticism against PayPal, with some saying the only way to rectify the situation was to include a woman on the gender equality panel, even if it meant going against the original intent of the discussion. LaFawn Bailey, global head of culture and inclusion at PayPal, came to the event’s defense as well on a blog post, explaining the female audience members will be “full participants in the discussion.”
“Gender equality is not just a women’s issue. It will take all of us to create an inclusive workplace environment where involvement, respect, collaboration and connections are cultivated.”
The controversy also highlighted another gender-related problem for PayPal: its executive board consists of 15 men and three women.
As Sunny Webb, of Accenture Technology, explained in a Huffington Post blog, there have been some big steps in gender equality, and it’s becoming easier for women to get involved in fields like computer science. She highlighted the role of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization with the goal of educating 1 million girls in coding by the year 2020.
As for PayPal, they’ve taken on a number of other social issues. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the firm joined with other companies like PepsiCo to fight against the North Carolina law prohibiting local ordinances that protect LGBT community members from discrimination.
PayPal initially planned to build an operation center in Charlotte that would have employed 400 people. But, in protest, the company has decided to go elsewhere.
They released a statement, explaining “this decision reflects PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect.”
When it comes to gender equality, the company has certainly hit a problem with the internet. PayPal insists the panel is about hearing from male allies, but having a group of men on stage lecture female audience members about the issue is not a particularly good image for promoting inclusion. Gender equality will likely remain a difficult issue for PayPal and many other tech firms until the board of directors that own the companies become equal themselves.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]