Foundation Formation

eBay’s Head of Social Innovation gives up the goods.

By Dirk Olin

Lauren Moore runs global Social Innovation for eBay Inc., which includes oversight of the company’s giving activities. Part of Starbucks’ first CR team before joining eBay she had a background in the environmental community and community affairs. She recently answered a few more granular questions about eBay’s CR initiatives.

How do you bring the compliance side of CR to your workforce?
Each year, we have comprehensive compliance training requirements, which go to our inboxes. You receive different modules depending on your level or responsibility or reach within company—in areas such as ethics, diversity, sexual harassment. And you receive a lot of emails reminding you if you haven’t done it yet. And it comes up throughout the year. Both outsourced and tailored, they’re made very specific for us.

What about your environmental footprint?
Carbon and energy receive the most focus on that front. We’ve reported through the CDP [Carbon Disclosure Project] for a number of years. That goes from our workplace and operations and shipping, as well as an eBay marketing site for greening. We also have the exciting innovation happening around our data centers—focusing on the operational energy footprint itself. We have a partnership with Bloom Energy and their Bloom box fuel cells. As much as possible we’re using renewable energy, as opposed to just taking it off the grid. We’re very excited about that work. Our centers that are already up have their own goals, but the new center in Utah is completely power by Bloom.

A number of years ago, we put out a carbon target, but then acquired a number of large companies, so a static number didn’t make sense. Energy per transaction on eBay marketplaces became a metric, and we’re working on a similar metric for the PayPal businesses. That helps us, but it also helps other technology companies to create similar standards. It’s a vision not just to be a leader but to push the community to think about this differently.

What about your workforce?
We have a very global workforce of nearly 32,000 people. We encourage employees to think about their overall job, including greening, giving, or what have you. So it’s not a side thing that the business does, but an attitude integrated into our employees everyday by sharing examples with them to see how things play out in everyday jobs—creating impact not just changing footprint.

We also conduct an annual global employee engagement survey that has benchmarks against other companies. How many people get gifts matched by eBay Foundation, or spend volunteer time in the community. We’re also working on measuring awareness to increase engagement. We’re hoping for over half of our workforce engaged in Social Innovation. We’re creating a 2013 baseline and will deploy a survey going forward.

And you oversee foundation activities?
Yes. As you know, our founders, Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll, were the first to use pre-IPO stock to fund foundation work. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) was an alliance supporting micro-entrepreneurs. As my predecessor was leaving, they decided that foundation would go private to have greater alliance with business and employees about early 2009. SVCF still does back-end administration, but the team running it is part of our team.

The Opportunity Project (TOP) is how we can promote social innovation in underserved communities around the world. One partner, Samasource helps low-income women in Kenya India and developing world. It takes big data, breaks it up into small pieces, farms it out through Internet, and they get paid for cleaning up that work from refugee camps or other places at the bottom of the pyramid. It’s very exciting, and we’ll be doing more in that area.

Posted August 22, 2013 in Social Responsibility