by Michelle Abidoye
On November 11, Skadden hosted a WLALA breakfast event on "The Sharing Economy and its Impact on Women." The panel was moderated by Executive Committee Member Michelle B. Abidoye, Partner at FordHarrison, LLP. She was joined by three speakers: Carolyn Yashari Becher, a founding partner of HopSkipDrive; Danielle Lackey, CEO of Lateral Link's variable staffing division - CadenceCounsel; and Lynne Fox, a style and sales consultant with Worth New York.
The sharing economy is built around internet companies that serve as marketplaces that match people who provide a service and those who want to pay for it. In 1989, temporary or project based employment accounted for approximately 17% of the workforce. Now it makes up approximately 36%. About 3.2 million Americans work part-time or for an on demand service. For about a fifth of them, it is their primary source of income. By 2020, the number of on-demand jobs is projected to reach 7.6 million. That means we are expecting it to double in just 5 more years. Supporters of the sharing economy business model say it has injected life into the economy while providing workers with options they did not have before. Critics say that the sharing economy depends primarily on an independent contractor model that deprives workers of medical benefits, contributions to social security and Medicare, expense reimbursements, and full-time work.
The speakers provided interesting perspectives on the economic shift toward independent contractors and project-based employment. While it appears that many women value the flexibility that on demand services provide, it is not certain whether women are also seeing a corresponding financial benefit because of the part-time or project based nature of this type of arrangement. We look forward to continuing to track this issue as it develops!
Michelle Abidoye is the WLALA Communications Officer. Ms. Abidoye is a partner and FordHarrison.