We talked to Dr. Zara Nanu of Gapsquare on how they are intelligently building a world where work is inclusive, where pay meets value and diverse talent thrives
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Zara Nanu: We are all well – still working, still going to school. The biggest surprise of 2020 for me has been how much it has revealed our resilience and creativity, it has by no means been easy, but we have pulled together in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. We’re looking forward to a more positive 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Gapsquare.
Dr. Zara Nanu: I am the CEO of Gapsquare. We support organizations worldwide to build diverse and inclusive workplaces through our smart analytics, consultancy, and research. We are experts in building inclusive organizations with fair pay and compensation models, inclusive practices, and resilient talent.
I previously spent 15 years working on the proliferation of women’s economic rights across the globe. I bring my expertise together with my team of D&I and data specialists to build a world where work is inclusive, where pay meets value, and diverse talent thrives.
How does Gapsquare innovate?
Dr. Zara Nanu: We’re empowering business leaders to utilize tech and AI to create the fairer world we want to see and use data in a human way. It’s been exciting to see our clients be proactive rather than reactive in their journey to fair pay and fair workplaces.
Our origins are in fair pay analytics software. I co-founded the company after hearing the World Economic Forum predict that it would take 217 years before the Gender Pay Gap could be closed. At the same time, the WEF said that by 2030 we’d be in self-driving cars, healthcare would be automated and remote, and we’d be on our way to Mars. Yet, we would still be 200 years away from closing the Gender Pay Gap. I realized that there was potential to harness the power of tech, data, and artificial intelligence to accelerate social change and achieve fair pay and work for everyone.
A lot has changed in five years – we’re now seeing companies focus on the bigger picture of fairness at work. So we support everything from managing fair blended working policies to analyzing how Covid redundancies impact diversity.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Zara Nanu: Gapsquare has actually seen 50% growth this year, which is no mean feat given the year that is 2020!
We have had our work cut out for us since the start of the pandemic. In our research study into the impact of Covid on HR teams, one interviewee said: ‘if you’ve furloughed your D&I people, you’re probably regretting it now!’
Mass redundancies, record unemployment, and a physical and mental health crisis has urged a lot of organizations to prioritize their employees’ wellbeing. Inclusive leadership is even more essential in a crisis. During and after the Black Lives Matter movement’s peak, we’ve also seen companies prioritize how they hire, treat, and pay Black employees.
So leaders are under the spotlight for how they treat their staff at this time. And we’re here to support them in doing just that.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Zara Nanu: More than difficult choices, we’ve had to learn to be dynamic and adaptable. We’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, which we’ve been doing throughout the lockdowns. Being a small team has always allowed us to work quickly and run with ideas. This means that our direction shifts based on what our clients tell us they need, based on the wider context, based on demand – but our fundamentals have, and always will, remain the same.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Dr. Zara Nanu: Covid-19 has exacerbated pre-existing stress, anxiety, and mental health issues at work – and it was an issue before, with stress, depression, and anxiety accounting for 54% of all working days lost. I am a firm believer that business leaders should prioritize mental health and wellbeing for their teams. Happy teams are more productive and more likely to stay at their company. And more than that, it’s the right thing to do.
And me personally – I run. I lean on my wonderful team. I communicate openly with them. I try not to work in the evenings. I appointed a Wellbeing Lead this year, too. In an increasingly digital world, it’s so important to focus on what is human – to look out for each other, even if it’s over Zoom (especially if it’s over Zoom).
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Zara Nanu: Gapsquare has been built around a new market bringing together data and inclusive practice through tech. The Big 4 Consultancies also work on D&I and fair pay projects. But we’re the experts, and our technology offers previously unseen expertise – we’ve been in this space for 5 years, constantly learning and growing. Our size also makes us more flexible and more efficient – and we’re certainly less expensive.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Zara Nanu: It’s been a tricky year for everyone, but we’re constantly inspired by the hard work and dedication that we see with our incredible partners and clients. The next normal awaits us, and taking this moment to ensure it is inclusive is just plain smart. The New Year is the perfect time for organizations to reflect, to plan, to build strong and effective diversity and inclusion strategies with data at their core. We’d love to support you with that, so get in touch to start your journey to workplace equity.