Inequalities between women and men in the workplace have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are likely to persist in the near future, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). The World Economic Forum estimates globally it will take 267.6 years to close the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.
So it’s even more crucial that the global gender and ethnicity pay gap be “squared away” by entrepreneurs passionate about the issue.
Gapsquare, a U.K. startup that’s been addressing this issue since 2017, has been among a handful of startups addressing these concerns via machine learning around the issue.
Its analytics software, which analyses and tracks pay disparity, pay equality and pay gap data, has now been acquired by XpertHR, a part of RELX, for an undisclosed sum. TechCrunch understands from sources that Gapsquare never raised institutional venture funding.
The Gapsquare platform — along with co-founders Dr. Zara Nanu and Ion Suruceanu — will be joining the XpertHR team. Gapsquare previously counted Vodafone, Condé Nast and Serco as clients, amounting to data from tens of thousands of employees.
Gapsquare’s model is to provide HR and Reward professionals with actionable insights about their company’s existing pay gaps.
Through its “FairPay Pro” platform, Gapsquare says it can identify variables for employee demographics such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, identifying the causes of pay gaps, and proposing and tracking remedial actions.
In a statement, Nanu said: “We know for many businesses transparency around compensation fairness and pay reporting is high on the agenda. Gartner research indicates that over 80% of businesses globally are driven to take action around pay equity and pay gaps as the workforce is changing and younger generations entering the workforce are increasingly interested in transparency, sustainability, and equality. By joining forces, XpertHR and Gapsquare are better equipped to support our customers’ evolving needs and those of the businesses around the globe.”
Scott Walker, managing director at XpertHR, said: “I am excited to bring Gapsquare into the XpertHR family. Our mission is a simple one: to create purposeful workplaces for every person in every organization. Both businesses are dedicated to improving the experiences of millions of working professionals around the globe. By combining Gapsquare’s advanced technology with XpertHR’s expertise in reward data, we can better equip employers to build a world where work is inclusive, where pay meets value and diverse talent thrives.”
The child and grandchild of teachers, Nanu was inspired to look more deeply into the issue of the gender pay gap after working with a female trafficking prevention program in Moldova, a small country in Central Europe. She realized women were being thrown into sweatshops and paid a minimum wage, thus trapped in poverty.
After growing up in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, she relocated to Bristol, U.K., and started Gapsquare. Nanu has previously talked about how Soviet attitudes to gender equality — where the Communist system dictated that men and women should be equally treated — made her realize that Western practices had actually become retrograde by comparison.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2018 she said: “We had quotas around women in parliament, quotas around the representation of women in any sector. Childcare was free, so my mum could go back to work six months after giving birth. When I came to the UK [in 2007] it felt like, to some extent, I was going back in time in terms of gender equality.”
Ultimately, the background to the Gapsquare story is reflective of the environment in which Nanu operated. Raising venture capital to highlight gender disparity in a male-dominated corporate and venture environment was a tough gig. Perhaps one of the toughest. It’s a testament to Nanu’s persistence that she bootstrapped, got this far, and exited with her team. But it’s also an indictment of the VC industry. We haven’t seen the last of this entrepreneur.