WNBA Legend Diana Taurasi & PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman discussed the social injustice issues in society and their commitment to fight for equality
As the battle against social injustice continues every day in the United States and around the world, it is now more important than ever to take a stand and speak out for what you believe in. The Phoenix Mercury and PayPal have teamed up yet again as the greatest female basketball player of all-time, Diana Taurasi, and the President and CEO of a billion-dollar organization, Dan Schulman, joined forces to preach equality for all and provide a voice for the voiceless.
Last week, Schulman invited Taurasi onto his Never Stand Still podcast to discuss everything from her legendary career to her relationship with the late legend, Kobe Bryant. While the overall arching theme may have been basketball, the two dove deeper into the importance of using their elevated platforms to fight against the issues of injustice that many are facing.
These discussions regarding race, gender, sexual orientation and equality for all have been pushed to the forefront of society lately, but this battle is nothing new for Schulman and Taurasi.
Since taking over as the President and CEO of PayPal in 2014, Schulman has shown his commitment to social change in many ways, including identifying and closing his company’s pay gaps across gender and race, opening a $500 million long-term economic opportunity fund to support black and underrepresented minority businesses and communities, and providing $10 million in grants to black-owned businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or civil unrest.
The Mercury proudly wear the PayPal logo over their heart on their jerseys as both organizations demonstrate these shared values and speak out for those in need. As for Taurasi specifically, her desire to stand up for equality comes from her family and dates back to before she was even born.
“We’re an immigrant family,” Taurasi said on the podcast. “We came over from Argentina in the 1970s. They came to the U.S. with pretty much nothing. They came with their bags, a couple of pieces of clothes and that was it. I think just the fabric of how they came here kind of resonated with my sister and I.”
Taurasi gained invaluable lessons from her family’s struggles which have helped shape and mold her own philosophies, impacting her life greatly on and off the court.
“Working hard, making sure you show up every day on time,” Taurasi said. “Those little things to me are really, really important. I think that shows a lot of character and I just never thought of myself as being better than anyone else. From an early age, I was around a lot of good people, a lot of good friends.”
As a three-time WNBA Champion, three-time NCAA Champion and a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, if there is one thing Taurasi knows, it’s how to win. In these victories, she’s noticed that the most successful teams were often the ones who embraced each other’s differences.
“A lot of times you think that it’s the similarities that would bring you together, but the more I play and the more I’m around different groups of people – from playing in Russia and Turkey, in college and the WNBA – it’s how do you accept people’s differences?,” Taurasi said. “How can you meet in the middle? Not everyone approaches business the same way. Not everyone approaches the game the same way. So, how can I step outside of my comfort zone and how do you step out of your comfort zone and how do we meet in the middle to make each other better?”
Both Taurasi and Schulman agree that this philosophy is true on the court, in business and throughout life. By embracing everyone, they feel they are able to gain different perspectives and unique solutions whether aiming for the success of a championship or to build the culture of a global corporation.
Taurasi’s desire to fight for equality started in her home and has now extended well beyond to the hardwood in which she has built her legacy. She is no longer just speaking out for her family that endured prejudice in order to provide for her, but she is also taking a stand for her friends and teammates that she lays it all on the line for every time she steps on the court.
“To me, what really hit close to home is how sad and how angry some of my best friends have been,” Taurasi said. “When I leave the gym and when my Black teammate leaves the gym, it’s two different worlds. When I talk to my teammates, the things that they’ve gone through that they’ve never shared before, it just makes you really sad in a way. It makes you really reflect on how can you change your attitude and your behavior towards things?”
The Mercury and the WNBA as a whole are pioneers in the sports community when it comes to standing up for others, speaking out against social injustice and providing an inclusive place for all. As the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, Taurasi feels it’s her duty to use her platform, especially in these present times.
“When people are hurting and people are being put in positions to fail, to me, that is just not what our country is supposed to be built on,” Taurasi said. “It happens all over the world and it happens in this country more than anywhere else. It’s really hit us hard. I think the WNBA has taken that momentum and we’ve made a stand. The WNBA is 80% Black. We’re going to make sure you know what side we’re on and we’re completely on the side of Black Lives Matter. That’s how we’re going to roll from here on out.”
Taurasi and Schulman are clearly both outspoken advocates for equality, but they understand that it’s not always the easy path to take, especially in their elevated positions in society. In a world that can feature hateful speech and gruesome actions, the two discussed the importance of taking a stand and not letting fear hold them back.
“It’s uncomfortable conversations,” Taurasi said. “When you talk about Black Lives Matter, people feel attacked by that. It’s not meant to be an attack – it’s meant to bring awareness to situations that need help. They need systemic help from education to socioeconomic standards that put people in positions that are just caught in this constant wheel of catching up. Sometimes when you’re someone in a position of fame or power or money, speaking out is the hardest thing. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more comfortable in the position of, no, this is what I believe in and these are the things that need to happen for it to be better for a lot of people.”
Taurasi has proven the importance that a leader has on the court, but she also recognizes the greater magnitude a leader has off it. She commended Schulman for his efforts as the two bonded over their commitment to push for a better world around them.
“You guys do a great job of speaking out for a lot of people that don’t have that voice and don’t have that platform,” Taurasi said. “You see people do that and it gives people a little bit of hope. We’re in a situation right now where I don’t think you can honestly look around society and see hope. You see a lot of despair. That goes for the social justice side of it. Hopefully people in my position, in your position, tons of players, politicians – there’s leadership that needs to be had right now. I think it’s failing the people that make this country work.”
The Never Stand Still podcast hosted by Schulman brings on some of the most influential and renowned guests from around the world. Tune-in on Apple podcast, as well as many other podcast outlets, to hear Taurasi’s episode as they dive deeper into the social injustice occurring in modern day as well as the legacy that she has developed over her historic career on the hardwood.