PayPal’s Lauren Shanks on Pride and Diversity Programs
Jun 20, 2017 11:10 AM ET
Lauren Shanks walked down North Charles Street this past weekend sporting #LoveWins swag as she took part in Baltimore’s Pride Parade for the third year as part of PayPal’s ongoing diversity efforts. The born and bred Baltimore native is an LGBT ally who spurred PayPal’s participation in the parade in 2015.
Lauren, the director of internal controls for North America, also spearheads the Baltimore PayPal Pride group combining the Timonium and Hunt Valley offices. She recently celebrated her tenth anniversary with her husband Mark, and she is a self-described foodie and movie lover who volunteers at the Maryland Film Festival every May.
How did your involvement in PayPal’s internal diversity programs come about?
I was the social chair of my previous company’s LGBT affinity group, but when I joined PayPal full-time there were no groups available in this office. After Dan came on board as CEO and really started making diversity part of the message, I approached our HR department and Gary Marino, our SVP and site leader, about sponsoring the local Baltimore Pride Parade and Festival in 2015. We were able to successfully put it on, and then from there, PayPal Pride was starting to gain traction at other locations, and I was asked to step in and lead our local chapter.
Why do you feel it is so important to have groups like PayPal Pride and others in your offices, or at any large company?
For me, I’m an LGBT ally, and I think that a lot of times straight people take things for granted, like the fact that I can put a picture of my husband on my desk and nobody bats an eye. But some people aren’t as comfortable doing that. It’s really important to have groups like this so people feel included. One of the best definitions I’ve heard of “diversity” came from Heather Rosenberg, who is my HR business partner. She said, “Diversity is the ability to be your whole self at work.” That is a really powerful definition for me because a lot of people don’t feel like they can do that. So, the more we have groups like this, the more people will hopefully get to feel that they can be their entire selves at work.
Do you think the PayPal’s diversity efforts change how employees feel about the workplace?
Absolutely! I think it’s important to see that the company cares about the same things you care about. And if what you care about are LGBT rights, if what you care about are your own rights because you are part of the LGBT community, then it’s important for the company’s values to reflect your own values. So, I think that it’s very meaningful for people.
PayPal Stories Staff