“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” - This has long been a regrettable reality for freelancers seeking to develop their career.

The problem of equal opportunity is endemic across industries – even now that awareness is on the rise. Still, factors such as race, gender and disability (to name just a few) impinge qualified professionals’ chances of getting hired. 

But could the remote freelancing revolution be the key to a more diverse, enabling and inclusive workplace? 

Working remotely, by definition, transcends the limitations of location. What’s more, traditionally fixed work schedules are made to be more flexible. This opens up valuable opportunities for underrepresented individuals for whom commuting is not possible - mothers, people with disabilities and those living in rural areas. This levels the playing field for freelancers the world over. 

In addition to this, seeing as freelancers are employed on a project-by-project basis, they are mostly judged according to the unique ideas, experience and expertise that they bring to the table. 

This is great news for diversity. It means that discriminatory biases lose their relevance. In a remote team, productivity and clear communication reign supreme. Office politics are less of an issue. Freelancers are more and more free to demonstrate their specialised skills and be valued for what they do best - regardless of race, gender or disability. 

kids parents working

BUT (and this is a big but), just because remote organizations have the potential to be more diverse and inclusive, doesn’t mean it will magically happen by default. Intentional action is required to give a leg up to underrepresented and marginalised groups. 

If we’re not careful, in some cases, the remote model could actually aggravate recruitment prejudices. For example, due to implicit cognitive biases, distance could cause employers to hire someone comparatively more similar to them. 

We also have to ask ourselves, does working remotely as part of a diverse team really overcome discrimination, seeing as nobody actually has to come into contact with one another? Perhaps this is a separate issue, but food for thought nonetheless. 

The bottom line: A more diverse workforce is better for everyone - and likewise homogeneity is detrimental. Who wants to be limited? A team that is made up of unique, diverse talent brings competitive advantages, no doubt. It’s time to fully embrace the possibility for better diversity and inclusion in remote freelance teams.