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The Gig Economy: What it Means and How to Survive It

Business

If you’ve heard of the gig economy before, you may not be sure if you’re apart of it. Are you a full time employee in a full time job? If not, you’re most likely within the “gig community” and may not have even known it.


According to Diane Mulcahy, professor of the “Gig Economy” class at Babson College in Boston, the gig economy covers anyone from a contractor, a consultant, a freelancer, a part time worker, and even on demand workers. Clearly it includes a lot of different professions, industries, sectors, and income levels.

Mulcahy is an expert on the gig economy, and has also written a book on the subject. To start off by giving you some of her wisdom, here are the ten “rules” Mulcahy lists to become successful in this economy.

1. Define your success

2. Diversify

3. Create your own security

4. Connect without networking

5. Face fear by reducing risk

6. Take time off between gigs

7. Be mindful about time

8. Be financially flexible

9. Think access, not ownership

10. Save for a traditional retirement, but don’t plan on having one

Now let’s look at some of these aspects in more detail. Creating your own security and thinking access, not ownership are two very big points in today’s day and age. Within the job market, full time jobs are actually decreasing in favor of people who can do the work on the side or part time. There are so many changes in the business world that you can’t rely on any one job or any one employer. Full time jobs aren’t going to disappear completely and most people will hold full time jobs at some point during their career, but that isn’t what graduating students these days should strive for.

Therefore: create your own security. Figure out what your skillsets and expertise are, then brainstorm what kind of gigs you can do. There won’t be the financial and job security for something such as buying a house or a car, but with more living and transportation options available, those things aren’t as necessary as they used to be.

“The gig economy is here: it’s growing, it’s growing quickly, and it’s here to stay.”

The gig economy is also an economy of skills. You really have to constantly keep track of what your skills are, what your expertise is, what your value to the market is, and what people are willing to pay you. This falls under diversifying yourself and defining your own success. Ask yourself, how can you gain new skills? How can you expand your network and develop new opportunities for yourself? Developing this mindset is the most important.

Also on Mulcahy’s list is connecting without networking. This is especially important for introverts who abhor situations where they have to walk around a crowded room, introducing themselves to people who might be important. Great news--you don’t have to do that anymore.

Writing is actually one of the best and easiest ways to make connections with people. This could be on social media--tweeting or having a dynamic Facebook page-- or it could be writing articles for an industry publication or a blog. If you’re comfortable with speaking, you could also put out podcasts to reach people. With these techniques, people will come to you, which also makes your audience much more targeted and relevant to you. You have to put yourself out there, but on your own terms.

So what are some other skills that are important to have as a “gigger”? Make sure you’re somewhat proactive in the entrepreneurial field, as gigging often goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, and make sure you have the financial wherewithal to go out into the gig economy. Savings and a lifestyle that’s financially flexible is what makes surviving in the gig economy both successful and beneficial.

With all of this information to digest, there’s just one point left to take in: make sure to take time off.

“Time is the new money--that is the scarce resource that we all are facing.”

Whether it’s for a week or a year, give yourself time to figure out what you want and hone in the skills you need to succeed.

We all struggle with how to balance professional and personal lives, and the gig economy allows you so many more opportunities to do that effectively.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.