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Your workplace has an opportunity gap. Here’s how to fix it.

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today: Syndio CEO Maria Colacurcio discusses what an opportunity gap is, and how your company can fix it if you have one. (You likely do.) Plus, productivity hacks from a crypto exec balancing leading a high-growth company with raising two young sons, and why women should stop volunteering to do admin work.

— Michelle Ma, reporter (email | twitter)

Opportunity inequity exists. Here’s how to measure and stop it.

I first wrote about Syndio, a software platform that helps businesses measure and tackle internal pay equity issues, in December as part of my Salary Series, when I interviewed CEO Maria Colacurcio about why and how best to conduct a pay audit. (TL;DR: You should be measuring and adjusting employee pay continually, not just once a year.)

Back then, the company was working on a new feature that would help businesses measure not only pay, but also employee access to opportunity.

I was intrigued. Despite all that’s been written about them, pay gaps are not complicated to tackle as long as you have enough money to throw at the problem. But how do you measure access to opportunity in a workplace, let alone solve for an opportunity gap?

I spoke to Colacurcio again last month to get to the bottom of this question and also to hear how the newly released OppEQ platform works.

  • Pay equity is easy to solve, according to Colacurcio, but median pay gap is harder. If two people aren’t being paid the same for the same job, that’s easy to fix. Just pay one person more. But what if everyone at the company is paid the same for the same job, but women make less than men across the board? If comms and marketing roles earn less on average than finance and engineering jobs, and more women work in comms/marketing than engineering/finance, there’s no way to fix that company’s median pay gap unless you somehow get more women into those higher-paying roles and teams. And that’s not something you can just throw money at to fix. In short, “the median pay gap is not about pay at all, it’s about opportunity,” she told me.
  • Here’s how OppEQ works: Syndio pulls employee data including race, gender, start date, birthday, age, tenure, education and other demographic factors from a company’s HRIS system. It then analyzes that data alongside that company’s hiring, promotions, performance scores and retention rates to understand where inequities and pay gaps lie. This allows companies to set data-driven goals and action plans for improvement, as well as forecast when they might hit their diversity goals with their current practices.
  • Companies are going to have to start thinking about all this, whether they like it or not, due to legislative changes and external pressures. Pay gap disclosures are already mandated in the U.K., but similar bills are already coming up in California and other states that would force companies to disclose their median pay gaps by EEO1 categories. Institutional investors are also starting to care more about these issues and expecting company leadership to do better from an ESG standpoint. “Companies will have nowhere to hide,” and CEOs will have to explain why they have the gaps they have, she said.

So the natural next question is: How can companies solve for these gaps?

  • Stop issuing performative commitments,Colacurcio said. Things like committing to 25% Black representation in leadership by 2028 is not useful if you don’t have any idea how to get there.
  • Instead of over-focusing on recruiting externally, build a stronger promotion pipeline internally. The latter is a better and more effective way of fixing the opportunity gap. Recruiting underrepresented people at the entry level isn’t the solution. If you have a “leaky bucket,” with women and people of color leaving at higher rates, try to examine why.
  • You can’t train your way out of opportunity bias. DEI trainings that happen once or twice a year, even if they’re not purely performative, are often just forgotten. Leaders need to analyze and pinpoint specific teams and departments that are underperforming from a retention, promotion and opportunity equity perspective and figure out the causes, as well as take concrete steps to tackle them.
  • Be more transparent about pay. If there’s an information vacuum, employees will fill it, often by making assumptions that might not be accurate, Colacurcio said. Embrace transparency and start owning the narrative by publishing your median pay gap. Proactively posting salary ranges is also “critical,” according to Colacurcio.
This story is part of our Salary Series, where we take a deep dive into the world of pay: how it's set, how it's changing and what's next.Read the rest of the series.

Productivity hacks from a crypto exec

Last week, I interviewed RippleNet GM Asheesh Birla for the second installment of our Protocol Calendar Series. He talked me through a day in his life as a high-level exec in the fast-growing crypto industry, and shared how he balances his responsibilities with being a dad to two young sons. If you missed it, here are some of his best productivity hacks.

  • Keep three calendars. Birla has separate Google Calendars for personal life, work and kids’ activities. He likes Google Calendar because it allows him to toggle back and forth between viewing all three, as well as coordinate and share calendars with his wife, admin and nanny.
  • The optimal meeting length is no meeting. Most meetings can be an email or shared Google Doc. Every quarter, Birla does a purge of unnecessary recurring meetings. “I feel like they’re sometimes there because of inertia, not because you really need them,” he told me.
  • Use Asana to keep track of open tasks. He uses the software to keep track of all the open items between himself and his admin. That makes one-on-ones sometimes not even necessary, since all the items are done asynchronously.

Read the full story.


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Today's tips & tools

Last week, we published an interview with productivity expert Vladimir Campos, who specializes in Evernote. Here are some of his top hacks.

  • Organize your life via notes, not tasks. “Tasks don’t show anything to you,” Campos said. “They only represent that you did it or you didn’t.” Instead, Campos organizes his work in notes and creates action times within those notes. Notes provide more context and better prepare him for work.
  • Use Evernote tags to build a workflow. For example, Campos marks notes as “Story,” “WIP” or “Done.” The “Story” tag means the note is simply an idea for a YouTube video. When he adds the “WIP” tag, or “Work in Progress,” it means he’s started to work on the video. “Done” is self-explanatory.
  • Blend your notes and calendar. Integrating your calendar with Evernote, or another note-taking tool of choice, is key if you’re like Campos and want to write everything down. Some people want to turn calendar events into living documents themselves. Campos achieves this by linking every Google Calendar event to an Evernote document.
— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter)

Women in tech: Stop volunteering for busywork

Are you a female employee finding yourself doing admin tasks at work, like taking notes during a meeting or spending a lot of time on behind-the-scenes work for which you might not receive credit or any tangible benefit? If so, you’re not alone, according to new research from cloud service provider Navisite, which surveyed more than 100 women in tech. (Two-thirds of those women hold engineering or technical roles.) It found that:

  • 94% of women in tech believe they are held to a higher standard than their male colleagues.
  • 75% of women surveyed are still being asked to do things like take meeting notes or get coffee. These sorts of admin tasks are notoriously often delegated to women in the workplace.
  • 61% of women believe that they lost out on a promotion or job opportunity because of their gender.
Moral of the story? Say no to busywork. Or at least stop volunteering for it.

More stories from us

The date for Twitter’s previously scheduled AMA with Elon Musk became a day of rest for employees.

Amazon is planning to contest the Amazon Labor Union’s victory, accusing the union victors of coercing voters.

DoorDash stock has dropped so low, the company is offering employees “top-up” equity grants to offset the losses.

Google quietly committed to Silenced No More protections for all its employees. The legislation allows employees to more freely discuss workplace violations.


More than ever, employees value their everyday work-life experience. With TouchTunes Unlimited, your employees choose the music and create the office vibe together. Leverage the power of social music to build a fun workplace culture and open new possibilities for creative team-building interactions.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Thursday.

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