Our co-founder Sultan Saidov was invited to speak to the Investor Community at the World Economic Forum recently. The question to prompt his talk was: What are the opportunities that people are missing, and that give you hope? Here is what he said…
The key word in this question to me is opportunity; as what gives me hope is that we are getting a lot closer to equality of opportunity. Where you work and what you work on is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life. It has been mentioned many times over the past few days that a defining feature of this forum and community is the focus on impact; for most of mankind, the biggest thing that determines how much impact you make is simple – it’s where you get to work, and what you get to work on.
Yet, for most people, what you work on is not a choice, and where you get to work is not a fair consideration. The reality is that while talent is distributed equally all over the world, opportunities are not. The most impactful opportunities are provided to those who get the chance to build up a ‘pedigree’ – from top firms, which in turn hire from top schools. Most people do not have equal access to work.
Historically, two key factors that have driven this inequality stand out. The first is the passport lottery – where you are born has one of the greatest impacts on your access to healthcare, education and work.
The second is selection bias. People are typically hired for ‘credentials’ over potential, and who you know and have access to has more impact than what you are capable of.
What gives me hope is that for both of these factors, the world is changing rapidly, and we all have a role to play in this paradigm shift.
Upwork and “remote project work” is one strand in the shift in how firms are hiring. It is not simply a question of regulations and tax implications, but one of equality of opportunity. In fact, one of the positive outputs of the pandemic has been an acceleration in access to work around the world, and a growing focus on hiring for skills. As we embrace digital and remote workforces, we also have the opportunity to make more inclusive decisions.
And herein lies the opportunity: to embrace the need to hire and develop people based on their potential rather than credentials.
Until recently, most ‘high skilled’ jobs were an extension of ‘high education’ – lawyers became lawyers, doctors became doctors, and so on. However, we know that the number of job titles in the world is increasing incredibly quickly, and in this ‘Cambrian explosion’ of types of work, most new jobs are no longer an extension of lifelong education or vocations.
People’s skills are becoming redundant quickly (around every 5 years, by some estimates) – and consequently one of the most important factors for almost any job is the candidate’s hunger and ability to learn and evolve. There is now a higher value to people’s aptitude and potential than there is to people’s experience and where they studied.
And, as with any opportunity, there lies some responsibility. As Peter Maurer said today, words alone can’t fix things.
Company leaders can make a major impact not only by what their teams build, but by how they build their teams. They can create entrepreneurs and owners in their companies, and build teams that are more diverse and (as a by-product) be more productive and engaged.
You can get things done without defaulting to full-time hires with “credentials” – you can create projects and meaningful work that help people develop their potential.