Same-sex marriage: Tech giant eBay backs Yes vote

John Donahoe: we’re encouraging our employees to vote - they can choose how they vote

President and CEO of eBay John Donahoe  at PayPal’s Dublin office today.

President and CEO of eBay John Donahoe at PayPal’s Dublin office today.

 

Tech giant eBay has become the latest multinational to back a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on marriage equality.

Speaking at the company’s offices in Dublin, eBay chief executive John Donahoe said the company was strongly supportive of the referendum.

“Globally we always had a very strong commitment to diversity inclusion for the very simple reason that we’ve a diverse customer base - eBay and Paypal have 150 million active consumers around the world, and that by its very nature has diversity in it - and we believe that a diverse and inclusive workforce and team produces the best results. When we apply that to Ireland it’s aptly the case here,” he told The Irish Times.

“We’re encouraging our employees to vote - they can choose how they vote, but I think it reflects the will of our team that they believe this is the right thing to do and it’s very consistent with what we believe as a company.”

Ebay employs almost 3,000 people in Ireland, with the majority at its Paypal unit in Dublin and Dundalk, Co Louth.

Mr Donahoe said its position on equality issues such as same sex marriage, in addition to being “the right thing to do”, also helps the company attract, retain and develop the right people.

“It’s a dynamic world out there, and sentiment is changing on these issues. Many of the most talented people out there care about these issues and they want to work for a company that cares,” he said. “It’s not just that we want to attract people of different sexual orientations, genders or background, but even those who are in what can be described as more traditional demographics care.”

The company has evidence to support its claims of supporting diversity. For the past six years, eBay has scored 100 per cent in the Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality index, a national benchmarking report on corporate policies and practices related to workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people. That top score earned it, along with 365 other companies such as Tesla, Unilever and Facebook, the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality”.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for Ireland to be out front on an issue that is important and one we’ve cared deeply about for years,” Mr Donahoe said.

Also rowing in behind the Yes campaign is Twitter, with the managing director of its Irish arm Stephen McIntyre saying a Yes vote would show Ireland was inclusive and attractive for international investment. That call was echoed by IDA Ireland’ chief Martin Shanahan, who said a Yes vote would be good for business.

The position drew criticism from the Iona Institute, which is campaigning against equal marriage rights.

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