It’s 2013, and yet I still feel the tension and pain from reading posts on the oDesk community forums.
I happen to drop by the Clients section for some research on client perspectives on online work.
But this. This is what made me wince on my way out the door:
It’s entitled, “Would You Hire a Department Head from the Philippines?”
How someone could make such deragatory claims about a nationality is beyond me.
To continue hiring said nationality because they are from a “lower cost country” doesn’t surprise me one bit.
It’s as if awareness of people’s sensitivities is non-existent and globalization is a concept still shrouded in a black void.
Now, there are always different sides to a story, so it’s unfair to judge this person immediately for his intentions of asking such a question.
Ashan D. may have experienced some hiccups in his business that cost him thousands, and he’s now being “careful” by asking a virtual, global forum for advice for this kind of problem.
It could be that the person he has hired for work has screwed him up. He may deserve a little sympathy from the audience.
But to go about it by inflicting unfair judgment and racist preconceptions? Where is the civility in that?
Racism and How to Handle It
Racism has gone up a level at this point.
It is no longer an issue between the West and the East. It isn’t anymore just an area of debate between the white man and the colored man.
From what I can see from this thread, anybody can speak unfairly about another person, regardless of geographical and cultural backgrounds.
The question now is how to deal with poor judgment on a global platform like oDesk.com. And I’m pretty sure it thrives just about anywhere where nationalities all over the world interact.
- Calmness – remaining professional, removing one’s own tendencies to throw the same brick at the person. It is in being calm and professional about the problem that we refuse to feed the fire and lower ourselves to that level.
- Critical thinking – to debate and argue using relevant and thorough reasoning, to question the grounds of the claim and get to the root of the problem. Fighting back by hurting Ashan D.’s nationality does not solve anything. To argue that s/he should not hire based on price and country, rather on the expertise of the person, and the benefits that come with it, is the ideal way to address the issue.
- Assertiveness – to believe in your self, to stand firm and confident to what you think is right. This is important, because you have the tools to do this. You have the freedom to express your convictions.
Think of Aung San Suu Kyi and how the movie The Lady (2011) portrayed her near-death scene where she was about to be shot point blank by a military official.
She remains calm, reminding her comrades not to fight back with violence, and asserts herself by walking towards her enemy. She does not back down nor does she use violence to fight back.
We must deal with the problems of our reputation in the same manner as Suu Kyi did. We handle it with confidence in the errors of such judgment, correct those who assume us to be this way, and reflect our beliefs in our everyday lives.
It Takes Two to Tango
As I’ve said before, there are different sides to every story, two sides to an argument.
In this case, it is a notion about contractors from the Philippines and Asia as a whole.
If we want to stop clients from thinking that we are willing to work for cheap, we have to act out our ideals.
This is not to say that bidding low rates in order to get that first gig is wrong. Everyone starts their journey to success at rock bottom.
The question is, will you take steps to get out of the bottom? Or are you satisfied with servicing clients at $0.50/hour?
You have to climb up that ladder. Move forward.
This is the premise of one of my older posts, “The Surefire Way to Stopping Those Nasty $1/Hour Jobs.” For clients to start realizing that they get what they pay for, we have to assert ourselves when dealing with prices for our services.
In short, we charge better and more reasonable rates. These rates are based on your skills, how confident you are in them, and the value of your knowledge and expertise.
If clients don’t respect your decisions and the role you play in your business, they may not be good people to work with.
Give them every reason to want to work with you. Show them that you have the knowledge, the creativity, and the capabilities of doing great things. Then racism may not be as prevalent as it still is today.
What do you think?