BYP are elated to announce that we have teamed up with the eCommerce giant eBay. Founded in 1995, this site and workforce have grown at a phenomenal rate and enjoys an immense amount of revenue from its millions of buyers and sellers. We have several exciting things lined up in the very near future.
Last week, BYP sat down with Beric Alleyne, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at eBay and Murray Lambell, General Manager for eBay UK. We discussed life at eBay as the company reflects on the progress it’s made towards striving for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce and celebrating its 25th anniversary.
How did a career at eBay appear on your radar and what made you want to join?
BA: Honestly, it was a bit serendipitous. Prior to eBay, I led cross-functional transformation change initiatives at Goldman Sachs – not only a different industry but a very different kind of work. It was there I discovered my passion for people and my desire to ensure that everyone is given a fair shot to realize their dreams. I started to form a view that I could leverage my engineering and business background to bring this passion to fruition. Around the same time of this ‘awakening’, I was approached to join the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) team at eBay to help integrate DE&I into the fabric of the organization and I decided to take a leap of faith. I spent time getting to know the company, at first through research, but once I started to engage with eBay’s people and got a sense of what made them tick and the passion, they all shared, I was sold. I haven’t looked back since.
ML: I started my career with British Airways, which was a great grounding. I don’t have a tech background and when I was approached, it was really exciting to hear about the different range of roles in the UK and career journeys available at eBay. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought about eBay before due to it having such a big presence in the UK.
What does your role entail?
ML: Well, until recently I was leading our UK Trading Team, who work with our fantastic sellers on product categories from fashion to car parts and accessories. We have recently announced some organisational changes which has given me the opportunity to step up as General Manager and lead our UK business, which I am incredibly excited about. This means that my role is even more varied than before. I work closely with my predecessor, Rob, who leads our European business, and our incredible UK teams covering Marketing & Communications, Operations and Trading to drive our sales activity. Just one day can see me attending a meeting looking at our eBay for Charity initiatives, speaking to press, or chatting to the teams on our weekly Friday ‘ask me anything sessions’.
BA: My role is about ensuring that our current and potential employees as well as our millions of buyers and sellers around the world experience eBay as a place where anyone, regardless of their background, is welcomed, is included and is part of an equitable organization that supports their success. In partnership with cross-functional experts and our executive leadership team, I drive the formation and delivery of our comprehensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy which is grounded in three pillars: our workforce (who and how we hire), our workplace (how it feels when you are here) and our marketplace (how we intentionally include our buyers and sellers as well as better serve the communities that we are a part of). To effectuate this change, we pull on several structural and cultural levers to adopt best practices and to lead with empathy as we make this work part of everyone’s day to day at eBay.
What has been your biggest accomplishment, within the realms of eBay, so far?
ML: Seeing the change in customer perception of eBay in the UK from somewhere people go to buy a second-hand bargain, or shift the items they no longer have a use for, to a place where you can find one-of-a-kind treasures and big ticket items from both big brands and small business across the UK at great prices. We will always be loved for our C2C business, where individual sellers – rather than businesses – sell to other customers, and everyone seems to have a story of something they have bought via auction. But now the vast majority of what we sell is new. Being part of the team in the UK that has driven this shift, attracting amazing sellers and more customers, is something that I am very proud of.
On a personal level, I have felt especially proud of how we have pulled together as our working landscape has changed, on a professional, personal, and charitable level over the past few months. We have just completed our first remote team day, where we had cooking and cocktail lessons (plus business updates!) which really energised the team as we move into our busiest part of the year, while continuing to manage the challenges of Covid-19.
BA: I’m excited about the level of passion, drive, ownership and accountability in making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a core element of how we operate, all while being human centred. On the structural side, at all levels of the organization and across our three pillars, I’ve witnessed various functional experts and leaders embody this work by evaluating and updating our policies as well as business processes and by deepening our data capabilities. And on the cultural side, we continue to provide immersive experiences which we believe will open the hearts and minds of our people in service of organically growing empathy. So, what does this look like? In our Marketplace, bearing witness to new ways we’ve produced conference activations and amplified our diverse sellers while celebrating what makes them as well as our diverse buyers unique is personally very moving. Another example of something I’m particularly proud of is our appetite to push past convention and leverage technology to provide immersive experiences. We recently piloted virtual reality as a catalyst to build empathy and understanding by getting our people to walk in someone else’s shoes. And finally, being part of an organization that continues to welcome and, in many cases, demand the tough conversations, whether about race, gender equality, politics, etc. is very encouraging. It demonstrates an appetite to learn and grow which I personally find exciting as we find better ways to move forward – together.
What is your favourite thing about working for eBay – what does eBay do well?
BA: Easy - It’s the people for me. Many companies boast about their culture and their people but at eBay, we’ve got something special going on and it all starts with our purpose driven mission. eBay exists to provide economic empowerment – for everyone, regardless of their background. This unifying purpose attracts a special group, who share that similar vision and are maniacal about bringing it to life. We are committed to building a more equitable company, one where we are committed to doing the work needed to find the right people, regardless of their background, and that everyone’s contributions are recognized within an environment that harnesses the power of true inclusion. Have we “gotten there”?” No. But I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the level of commitment and investment we have to continue this important work.
ML: The people! Everyone at eBay says this but it really is true – everyone is incredibly supportive, genuine and talented. And, if I can pick two, can I also say our Communities of Inclusion?! They really drive our culture here in the UK. These Communities are run by teams within eBay on top of their day-to-day roles and that’s no mean feat, with all the events and activities they organise. For example, we have trained Mental Health and also LGBTQ+ allies in the business, working to make eBay a supportive, inclusive and diverse workplace. Earlier this year they helped to create a really impactful Pride event, where we addressed the challenges of LGBTQ+ in the black community. We also have so much going on for Black History Month, including a conversation with Layla Saad and David Olusoga.
What does diversity in the workplace mean for you at eBay?
ML: The greater the diversity of our workforce, the more we reflect our diverse customer base. Different viewpoints make us stronger, and difficult problems can only be addressed with diverse thought and experience. It’s down to us to be constantly challenging ourselves to think in that way, and while we have a lot to be proud of, we remain committed to exploring more ways to make progress.
BA: Unleashing and harnessing the power of diversity in the workplace first begins with having diversity in our workforce (who and how we hire). As we continue to strengthen this organizational muscle, we’re also building a more equitable experience across the entire employee journey which revolves around a truly inclusive environment where everyone is invited to contribute to making us a stronger company.
You’ve recognised that there is still work that needs to be done, in light of this what does partnering with BYP Network mean to you?
ML: We felt that there was a synergy between eBay and BYP around community and it is incredible to see what BYP has created since it was founded. The way that BYP addresses topics that impact the Black community is incredibly important and we want to drive this discussion with our teams. eBay UK is growing and next year we will be on the lookout for great talent – starting to share what eBay is all about will help us on this journey.
What kind of qualities are you looking for in applicants and what talent are you on the hunt for?
ML: We have a huge array of roles globally, from tech to marketing and would recommend taking a look at our careers site to explore all of our different areas. In the UK office, we are less tech focused as we work closely with our global teams on this so in the last year we have recruited role in areas including fulfilment, communications and legal from a range of companies. I love the range of backgrounds we have and the diversity this brings. For example, we have had new starters join from well know retail brands to finance companies . This brings a great diversity of thought and we also have a great array of nationalities, so it means that when it comes to events such as Diwali, that we have recently celebrated, all of the UK team gets involved.
What advice would you give to Black professionals considering applying to eBay UK?
BA: My advice for a Black professional applying to eBay would be the same for anyone applying to eBay. Firstly, have a look at our website, get familiar with our purpose and if this excites you then tell us what makes you, you! Be open, be courageous and be willing to take risk. Just know, things aren’t perfect from a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion perspective but there are many people doing their best to build a truly equitable and inclusive organization, one that will cherish you as a human being as well as the impact you make and the mark you leave.
ML: I couldn’t agree more. Our community is absolutely open to everyone, so I would encourage any potential applicant who believes they have the right skills for a particular role to go for it. And Don’t be put off by the size of the brand – eBay is a unique business and while technology may be the tool that started the platform, its people are the foundation of everything we do.
It was a pleasure sitting down with Beric and Murray, both were incredibly passionate about the business and it was great hearing about their journeys and vision. We are looking forward to a rewarding partnership!