How do we protect workers in the freelance economy?

Customer behaviour and analytics isn’t all we look at in Accenture Labs.

Digital Workforce is a detailed programme of research into crowd-sourcing and the future of work. As we look at UpWork, TaskRabbit and vertically oriented platforms such as Top Coder, a key question that I’ve had of these researchers is how we protect these freelancers, ensure that they are paid fairly and ensure that the hiring process is discrimination-free.

The #hackthepaygap hackathon provided an opportunity to answer some of these questions. Spearheaded by Taurean Dyer, a group of researchers and developers from across Accenture (myself included) came together, in our own time, over a period of a few short weeks to build a showcase demonstration based on our internal crowd-sourcing platform. Using natural language processing, hiring pipeline analytics and visualisation we built a tool to show hiring managers where they aren’t being equitable and provide automatically generated pointers on how to improve.

Today, that tool was demonstrated at the White House among many other great solutions.

Frankly, Taurean describes it better than I can:

It is a powerful reminder that as we barrel toward a digitised, distributed future, we have to also look out for those that might be left behind.

This is only the beginning of the social issues we, as society, will have to solve as we tentatively embrace the “gig” economy, but it’s a start.