Syndio: helping organisations achieve workplace equity

Ritu Mohanka on why the data doesn't need to be perfect

“I’m so passionate about making fairness in the workplace a reality for everybody, whether it’s gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation,” declares Ritu Mohanka MD and Head of EMEA at Syndio. “Now I have a real opportunity to make that happen for numerous people in many companies.”

The opportunity comes from her appointment as MD and Head of EMEA at workplace equity platform Syndio last year. Founded in 2016 on the belief that companies needed to do more than just say that their employees were their most valuable asset, Syndio helps organisations measure, achieve and sustain workplace equity. It gives organisations real-time data and insights into closing pay and opportunity gaps and reaching their DE&I goals.

Ritu brings over 20 years of experience in senior leadership positions with HR and talent-focused businesses, including Glint/LinkedIn and Kenexa. She has also been featured on the EMpower Top 100 Ethnic Minority Senior Executive list numerous times. 

Born in Calcutta, Ritu was brought up in a traditional Indian family and spent much of her early career breaking down barriers. This has driven her to do “work that is deeply meaningful and purposeful” and to remove obstacles for others. 

Explaining her day-to-day role, Mohanka says: “I aim to make Syndio a household name while helping organisations understand how to achieve greater success by delivering true workplace equity in all its forms, using and improving their data and processes. 

“It’s also about building Syndio’s EMEA  operations, acquiring the right talent, becoming properly diverse, being conscious and intentional about who we hire and how.”

Gender pay gap

What differentiates Syndio from other companies offering what appears to be a similar proposition is its use of technology to delve deeper. Citing pay gap reporting as an example, Mohanka says: “The gender pay gap is only marginally about paying people equally for doing similar work. This is because this statistic assesses the average gaps across all jobs and all levels. Whereas Syndio, through technology in real-time, tells you where the gaps are in all jobs and levels, creating an opportunity perspective, which leads to an ability to erode the gender pay gap.

“We want to help organisations look at the data in a more meaningful fashion on pay equity, then report on whatever data they need from a gender pay gap perspective. That will eventually help to look at representation and where the opportunity gaps are to set diversity goals and metrics.”

Mohanka adds that Syndio is also on a mission to offer among the first real KPI measures for the ‘S’ in ESG (Environment, Social and Governance), which is set to become mandatory in Europe. 

Data doesn’t have to be perfect

She is aware that collecting data can be daunting for many companies and is keen to explode the myth that it needs to be perfect because the world of work is constantly moving and changing. Her advice is to start with whatever demographic data you have and base pay. Then over time, add bonuses and other benefits. Eventually, you will reach the stage where you can evaluate data on the way people are managed, promoted and rewarded.

Although it has proved difficult, in some cases, to persuade employees to provide demographic information, Mohanka noticed that, during the pandemic – while in her previous role – employees wanted to give regular feedback. “They wanted to be heard more often and to see what difference the organisation was making about creating an inclusive culture,” she reveals.

“I always say that trust and transparency are two sides of the same coin. You need to trust us; the data will help us create a better employee experience for you and a better inclusive world because we can do a proper analysis. Results show that when companies are transparent about their commitment to fairness in the workplace, it makes a difference in employees’ minds. When there’s no transparency, employees start to fill the void, often with misinformation.”

It was, therefore, important for people to see that action is taken as a result of supplying data. Mohanka points out that many organisations face calls from lawmakers, investors, employees and customers to ensure equal pay, increased diversity and elimination of bias throughout the employee lifecycle. 

She adds: “In the US, we work with about 10% of the Fortune 200 companies, and many are investing in this area. But, of course, teams are working in silos. Systemic bias is often a product of discriminatory pay, promotional practices and policies. Diversity, equity and fair pay are intertwined, and unless you address the root causes of inequities, you may not end up better than where you started.” 

Unconscious bias and harmful policies

“Maintaining pay equity requires identifying harmful policies and unconscious bias,  changing them so that pay equity gaps don’t reoccur. “If organisations don’t do something now and don’t become transparent about creating equitable pay, they’re going to get left behind.”

Syndio is currently the market leader in the workplace equity market, more than doubling its recurring revenue in each of the last four years. Mohanka says the aim is to continually develop over the long term and make the company the go-to for organisations wanting to set diversity goals and identify gender pay and other demographic equity gaps.  

She will continue to champion the gender pay gap and says there are limitations to simply reporting it just because the Government requires it. “As much as we want to help organisations report on the gender pay gap, we want them to take it wider and deeper, to get serious about closing the pay gap for all women as well as for other demographics.”

The next challenge will be tackling the ethnicity pay gap. “I cannot wait,” says Mohanka. “I’m a mother of two boys, and I want to be their role model and to be able to say that colour is not going to go against them.”

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