PayPal Chief Executive Dan Schulman has opted to take a stance against groups promoting hate and laws that discriminate, even facing lawsuits to stand up for what the company believes is right. Its value-driven approach has paid off for the payment company, which is a leader in its market.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Schulman told the paper the most important values to the digital payment company are diversity and inclusion, and that its mission is to bring financial access to everyone, not just the wealthy. He added that one of the most visible implementations of its values to date came in the spring of 2016, when PayPal canceled plans to build new operations in Charlotte after the state banned gender-neutral bathrooms.
"I think North Carolina was probably the moment that was the most visible, where we basically said this violates our core values and we need to make a very public stand on it," said Schulman. "Businesses need to be a force for good in those values and issues that they believe in. It shouldn’t come from backlash or people taking heat on it, because then it’s in response, as opposed to the definition of who you are and then how you react to the context that you find yourself in."
In recent years, PayPal has stepped up the enforcement of its policies, kicking hate groups off its service with high-profile actions taken against Infowars, the website operated by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Gab.com, the messaging platform often used to spread hate speech. Schulman said PayPal has a brand reputation group on staff, which it expanded after the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist rally that left one counter-protester dead.
"That was a defining moment for us as a company: that we really need to look at, as a very difficult thing, where do we draw a line around hate. Because the line between free speech and hate, nobody teaches it to you in college. Nobody’s defined it in the law," the PayPal executive told the WSJ.
Schulman added that websites may claim to be something, but then share links to video and content that spreads hate. He said the company has to go beyond the headlines and really delve into the businesses. "There are plenty of examples of websites whose arguments I disagree with, but it’s not hateful. It’s not promoting violence. You and I might not agree with it, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to accept PayPal or whatever it may be.”