It's not just the daily news cycle that seems to move faster than ever before. Almost every day offers a fresh reminder that we are living through a period of rapid, profound change. This is especially true in the business world, where new technologies and innovations are disrupting everything from the cars we drive – or that, increasingly, drive themselves – to the currency we use to buy them.
With so many changes happening at once, the conversation around innovation often focuses on the fallout: we are witnessing the disruption of industries and economies across the globe. Yet while the pace of change poses a challenge for many businesses and workers, the reality is that innovation is not merely disruptive. It is also one of the most powerful tools we have for promoting inclusive capitalism – the idea that businesses should work to create long-term value for stakeholders across society.
To that end, here are three ways that global businesses can use technological innovations to build more inclusive economies, provide jobs and training, and help create a better, shared future for everyone.
1. Embrace the gig economy
The gig economy has unlocked huge opportunity for people who want flexibility in how they work – and technology is largely responsible for that. Today, freelance workers can find job opportunities like never before by using websites and smartphone apps that act as matchmakers between freelancers and potential employers.
Now, this rise of the freelance or “gig” economy is driving a historic shift in the way people work. There are currently more than 57 million freelancers in the U.S. – and it’s not just people in wealthy countries who are benefitting from these opportunities. The growing market for digital gig work is also creating new ways for workers in places like India and sub-Saharan Africa to access and participate in the global economy.
The rapid rise of Ola, India’s most popular mobile app for transportation, is a great example of how the gig economy can create new opportunites for inclusive growth in emerging economies. Ola has launched an initiative to recruit more women drivers, focusing in particular on providing training and a potential career path for Indian women from more unprivileged sections of society.
Wherever they are based, freelancers or gig workers are increasingly using digital innovation to work on their own terms, with the flexibility that their lives demand. That’s not just good for them, it’s good for businesses, too. It makes it possible for businesses to tap into workers with very specialized skills when they need them – and it allows those freelancers to control the parameters of how they work.
This is why, at EY, we recently created a new global talent marketplace called GigNow. It’s a place to post short-term assignments, making it easy to match freelance workers with relevant projects at EY. To make sure the freelancers we work with have the best possible experience, we also offer them training and education opportunities that can benefit them throughout their careers.
In the months since launching in March 2017, GigNow has already connected freelancers to more than 1,000 contract positions throughout EY. The marketplace is now operating in seven countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, India, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. – and is scheduled to launch in India in the coming weeks.
EY is one of growing number of large enterprises working to seize this opportunity. In fact, an August 2017 study of nine Fortune 500 firms found that, over the previous year, the number of projects sourced via online freelancing platforms increased by 26%.