Black freelancers face discrimination on online hiring platforms

When I first started writing freelance, I asked a friend of mine for advice on which online marketplaces I should use, and how I should present myself. After giving me loads of helpful advice (thanks, Jock!), my white, male friend speculated that I — as a woman of color — “would be a hit.”

I wouldn’t say that was my experience. I certainly received a lot of interest and a lot of personal messages. But they were not of a type I would call positive.

My experience appears to be fairly normal for Black people entering online marketplaces. Despite the fact that freelancers are covered by anti-discrimination legislation, research shows that Black freelancers — especially women of color — face a significant level of discrimination on these platforms.

In this article, I’ll show you the evidence for that, share a few of my own experiences, and then think about what can be done about it.

The Research

Research into racial discrimination in online freelance marketplaces is rare. This is partially because of a design feature of these marketplaces: they don’t collect data on the ethnicity of their users. Despite collecting a vast amount of other data, presumably in order that employers can search for

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