Lead with Equity


Syndio is at the forefront of pay equity, a topic near-and-dear to our hearts, so the boys thought they bring CEO Maria Colacurcio on the show to get a read on what's going on and what the future holds when it comes to such issues.


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Maria Colacurcio (0s):

Pay, equity is truly a leadership responsibility on the company.


INTRO (26s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HRS most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.


Joel (26s):

Let's get ready to podcast! I haven't trademarked that yet. What's up everybody? You are listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I am your cohost Joel Cheesman joined as always by my cohost, Chad Sowash


Chad (38s):

Why hello!


Joel (38s):

And today. We are privileged to welcome. I'm not going to butcher this name. I promise Maria Maria Colacurcio is CEO of Syndio. Maria, welcome to the podcast.


Maria Colacurcio (55s):

Thanks for having me. And you nailed it. Got the last name on the first try love it. I really think he should have gone more Italian with it though. Go look, Colacurcio I think that that really, really sold it. Yes.


Joel (1m 5s):

You've already offended a whole group of people and we're not even like a minute into the show way to go Sowash


Chad (1m 11s):

That's what I do. Okay.


Joel (1m 14s):

Maria where, does this podcast find you today?


Maria Colacurcio (1m 16s):

Well, normally I'm working out of Seattle, Washington, but today you find me at my inlaws who are graciously assisting with the kids and we are in Arizona.


Chad (1m 25s):

Oh, nice. So that's awesome because from my research you have six children. What are the ages of those six kids?


Maria Colacurcio (1m 34s):

Yeah. Big buzzer on that one.


Joel (1m 40s):

You do know how it works, right?


Maria Colacurcio (1m 42s):

I do.


Joel (1m 42s):

We can send some literature.


Maria Colacurcio (1m 42s):

I do, We all have choices. Well all have choices, guys. There's two batches of them. There's a first marriage batch and the second marriage batch, the first marriage batch ages range from eight to 13. And there's five of them in that batch. So you do that. And then the caboose she's two. So the inlaws are all day with the husband in the pool and 115 degree weather, while I'm working and it's working out great.


Maria Colacurcio (2m 12s):

So very grateful,


Joel (2m 11s):

Two to 13. Did I get that right to the third day and eight? Your, your, your, your sainthood certificate should be in the mail.


Chad (2m 21s):

So the reason we brought you on the days, we actually did a show a few months ago that talked about Syndio and your series, a funding. And I, and I dove a little bit deeper into what you guys do. And so to Joel, and we had a little bit of discussion around Syndio being the platform, which allows companies to focus on pay equity and transparency. And we talk about this all the time on the show a nd how to rectify a system that is just so damaged.


Chad (2m 54s):

So if you could, if you don't mind, can you tell us your story, the story of Syndio, how you got here? Obviously there was a problem. You saw the problem, but how did you actually get that in your head? Hey, I can fix this?


Joel (3m 8s):

And how'd you come up with the name?


Maria Colacurcio (3m 11s):

Yeah, it's a great story. So I'm not the founder of Syndio. I am the CEO and joined a company that already existed. So that's kind of the first thing that I like to tell people, because it's, it's pretty rare to have a founder come in, have a founder, start a company, and then bring a CEO in, but that's exactly what happened. So Syndio's origin was actually a people analytics company and they had a phenomenal people analytics software product. It was organizational network analysis, and that's where the name came from.


Maria Colacurcio (3m 42s):

So synapses - connections, how do you connect a bunch of people? But what they did early on is they were having some trouble with the long sales cycle. It's a super crowded competitive market. It was a big consulting lift. So when I joined, they had a little side hustle product that the founder had created. He's a PhD. JD had worked at law firms and done thousands of <inaudible> analysis by hand. And they were selling this side product, which was essentially a better way to do ongoing pay equity analysis and eradicating unlawful pay disparities based on gender, race, ethnicity, really anything because the software is agnostic.


Maria Colacurcio (4m 21s):

So whatever data a company has, you can look at comparisons based on that data. So at the time I was at Starbucks and I was part of the communications team that was launching the very first pay parody announcement at the annual meeting, where Howard was handing off to Kevin Johnson as the new CEO.


Chad (4m 37s):

Which we need a big applause for that, by the way, because that we, I mean, we talk about that on the show, they, that that's definitely setting the bar and knowing that you were there during that. I mean, again, I think that just adds to the coolness of the story.


Maria Colacurcio (4m 52s):

It does, and that they were very progressive, specifically around the area of transparency. So a lot of companies had been doing this under the shroud of attorney client privilege and sort of behind locked doors and being one of the first to be open and share results with employees. I mean, we really believe at our heart at Syndio that what is going to solve this problem is number one innovation. So getting it out of the hands of outside consultants and law firms who are perpetuating the pay gap, but number two, adding a sense of accountability and transparency.


Maria Colacurcio (5m 24s):

So being honest with your employees about where you stand and what you're doing to fix those issues and Starbucks was very progressive in terms of transparency and sharing results. And that's how I became very, very familiar with how this is done. Starbucks did it, the old fashioned way. They worked with an external law firm. It took weeks, if not months to hand the data back and forth. If you had to change to a group or a reorg or a layoff, you had to redo all of your analysis. And in the end, a massive report that tells you where to remediate, but you don't understand anything about the policies and practices that are driving those disparities.


Maria Colacurcio (6m 2s):

So in the process of this, I ran across Syndio, along with the lead employment lawyer at Starbucks who had run pay equity for 13 years at Starbucks. He now is at Symbio. So we joined on the same day, when we found the software, we were blown away. We said, this is absolutely going to change the way that companies solve this problem.


Chad (6m 23s):

And it didn't take Starbucks 200 years. Did it?


Maria Colacurcio (6m 26s):

No, it didn't. And it's not taking companies 200 years anymore because we really eliminate the need to do it that old fashioned way. And we save companies time and unnecessarily unnecessary expense. Quite frankly.


Joel (6m 38s):

I don't know if you've seen some of the, some of the headlines in the news, but there's a, a global pandemic that has left 14 million people unemployed. How does that impact pay equity? Because my, my guess would be people care less about it when there are a lot more people unemployed. I just want a job, even if it's less money, like, do these issues go to the back burner in today's current environment, or do you think they still remain a high point in terms of where we should be going?


Maria Colacurcio (7m 8s):

It's such a great question. And I'm so glad you asked it because economic disaster exacerbates differences and it impacts the most vulnerable. So it actually is a huge risk that we're going to set ourselves back 50 years because of this pandemic. And not only that, we're seeing in the news and research and research, we've done ourselves at Syndio. We did a couple of surveys around COVID and single parents, dual parents that are both working. And the lion's share of the work at home is landing on women and minorities and single parents.


Maria Colacurcio (7m 44s):

And so if you look at that, if you look at the hours that women are spending, working, and working on their career, versus men, men are leaning more into work. So our survey showed that men are spending 12 plus hours a day working, whereas women are dialing it back. 14% of women in our survey were actually so overwhelmed they were considering quitting. So we really have to look at this pandemic from the standpoint of, are we going to set women back 50 years if we don't identify the types of things that they're handling at home?


Maria Colacurcio (8m 15s):

And the other part of this is, as companies start looking at policies for going back to the physical workspace, flexibility is awesome. We've been asking for flexibility for a decade because it benefits women. It benefits minorities, but when you look at an optional in the office policy who actually can show up, typically it's people who don't have kids, aren't caring for elderly parents, socio-economically are able to drive a car, not rely on public transportation.


Maria Colacurcio (8m 46s):

So there are all these things playing into that proximity to the boss, in the physical office. And what does that mean? And how does that again, set people back?


Joel (8m 57s):

Interesting. So I want to, I want to springboard off that question and go to another timely one in that July 31st, a lot of people's $600 a week, government check may or may not dry up, or it may be less et cetera. But so I'm curious about the impact on this from that standpoint, if a lot of people stop getting those checks, but more, more importantly, on the show, we talk a lot about universal basic income. And I'm curious about your thoughts on pay equity as it involves people getting, you know, a regular check from the government, does that stifle pay equity, or what impact does that have on it?


Maria Colacurcio (9m 35s):

I don't know that that necessarily stifles or propels pay equity, because when I think about pay equity, we don't have any regulation right now in the United States. So 44 States have laws around pay equity, but they don't do anything. And I talk about this all the time because people will come to our company and say, which States have really great laws versus which States don't well, okay, it's fine. that 44 States have laws prohibiting pay discrimination. There's also discrimination laws, right?


Maria Colacurcio (10m 5s):

So, but the onus is still on the plaintiff to go figure out that they're being paid less because of their gender, race or ethnicity and bring that claim. So until we have some sort of accountability and legislation around companies having to report, or, you know, report their standings report, pay equity, even just at the very minimal level, of level report, mean median report, average female versus male pay average white versus nonwhite pay companies have to take accountability for taking action.


Maria Colacurcio (10m 36s):

And we don't have any legislation around that. So in terms of like a dictated, mandated pay scenario, it doesn't really in my mind connects to pay equity because pay equity is truly a leadership responsibility on the company. The company has got to take responsibility to ensure they're paying their people fairly, regardless of all of these things we've talked about.


Joel (11m 1s):

So what's government's role, if any?


Maria Colacurcio (11m 3s):

I think government's role is to start looking at things like the Kamala Harris proposal, quite frankly. I mean, she said early on in one of her campaigns, why don't we have companies over a hundred employees required to report on how they're doing here? I mean, why wasn't that something that we should be asking them?


Chad (11m 23s):

Yeah, the answer's always enforcement, right? If you have regulations, you have legislation. It, none of it matters if you don't enforce it. And that's obviously just not being enforced, but there is no law and correct me if I'm wrong, around pay transparency, publicly Patriots, apparently which once again, would also spur this forward. Correct?