Eigen Creates Powerful Tool to Promote Pay Equity
As the son of a ceramicist, Zev Eigen ’96, Law ’99, loves breaking molds.
That’s what he did in 2016 – parlaying his expertise in labor, law and data science to found Syndio, now the country’s leading workplace equity platform.
“Our PayEQ software has helped tens of thousands of people globally – mostly women and people from underrepresented groups – get paid fairly and equitably to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year,” he said.
Technology fundamentally transforms the optimization of HR decisions, helping businesses navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and increased focus on transparency around compensation,” Eigen said.
Syndio helps employers “figure out which lever to pull” – compensation, personnel (by hiring and promoting differently) or policies – to address gender and racial pay gaps.
“Using Syndio’s workplace equity platform, organizations are able to make consistent, objective, fair and equitable personnel decisions,” Eigen said. Syndio pairs its software with high-level consulting and expertise in data science, statistics, law, labor economics, and compensation and benefits – offering clients as much, or as little, advice as needed.
Last September, Syndio partnered with the New York Stock Exchange to make its offerings available to NYSE-listed companies in support of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
To date, Syndio has raised nearly $100 million, has almost 200 employees globally and works with a large and growing percentage of the Fortune 1000. It is ranked No. 126 among Deloitte’s 2022 Technology Fast 500.
Although most of its customers are in the United States, Eigen, who has lived for the past year and a half in the Netherlands, sees “a lot of growth potential in Europe” and is working to develop its presence there.
Eigen, also the company’s chief data scientist, has long been situated at the intersection of workplace issues and complex analytics. As an ILR student, he supplemented his study of labor economics and statistics with computer science courses and a class on syllogistic reasoning. (“I received a warning from the dean’s office that I was taking too many credits outside of ILR,” he recalled.)
Through his ILR coursework, Eigen said he gained a holistic perspective on work.
“This idea that work is purely an economic exchange is false,” he said. “It’s a very personal exchange.
“I think that’s why I see things around corners and understand the world of work the way I do. I have a deep appreciation for how personal that exchange is and, at the same time, how economic that exchange is from management’s perspective. That enables me to build tools that solve business problems by treating people consistently, fairly and equitably.”
After earning a juris doctorate at Cornell Law School, Eigen practiced labor and employment law and was senior labor relations counsel at 20th Century Fox Film Corp. In 2009, he earned a Ph.D. in economic sociology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Before Syndio, Eigen founded Cherry Tree Data Science, which helped employers safely and reliably hire people with criminal records. The goal of both companies, he said, was “to help people in a direct way – and make the world slightly better – by solving big problems that others weren’t solving effectively while simultaneously helping organizations with bottom line profitability and productivity.”
Eigen also is co-founder of the Fair Pay Workplace, which certifies organizations that adhere to a set of rules and standards created by a group (led by Eigen) of independent experts from academia, private practice and business, along with former government agency officials. Companies certified through its process agree to be bound by those rules and standards and commit to them over time.
Although Eigen has taught law and business at universities including Northwestern, Yale and NYU, his affinity is for Cornell, where both his mother and brother also earned degrees. Cornell, he said, taught him to be a humble learner – a mindset that he believes makes many “Syndionians” successful.
“I love building products and thinking about what could be next,” he said. “And I love learning from customers and trying to figure out how we can make things better.
“I’m like a sponge. I want to learn everything.”