PayPal has thrived during the pandemic—and Dan Schulman has tried to make sure that its customers and employees thrived, too. When COVID brought the U.S. economy to a halt, PayPal was in the thick of the financial relief effort: issuing small-business loans; serving as a funnel for charitable fundraising; and helping customers get faster access to stimulus payments by waiving the fees it usually charges to cash government checks. In response to the resurgence in activism over racial justice after the murder of George Floyd, the company says it has deployed more than $300 million in grants to Black-owned businesses, grants to nonprofits that support those businesses, and investments in Black- and Latinx-owned banks.
Schulman’s investment in PayPal’s own employees has been just as groundbreaking. In 2019, PayPal’s leadership realized that many employees were barely getting by, even though they were being paid what the company believed were fair market rates. Schulman set a new goal: Every employee should have “net disposable income”—money left over after taxes, insurance premiums, and essential living expenses—of at least 20% of total pay. For most call center and entry-level workers, that figure at the time was well below 10%; by the end of 2020, after PayPal boosted wages and picked up a larger share of health premiums, the figure was 16% and climbing. Generosity hasn’t hurt the bottom line, either: In the first quarter of 2021, its earnings hit a record $1.1 billion, while revenue was up 31% year over year.