Each day, I work with an atheist, a 7th Day Adventist, a Lutheran, a Hindu, a Jew, an Episcopalian, and a Catholic (to name a few). Back of the napkin, I also work with people in about 10 countries and 20 U.S. states. Very few of these people I have ever met in person. We each lead extremely different lifestyles and have vastly different viewpoints. I’ve not been trained extensively on the subject of diversity and do not have a diversity coach on staff. Yet it all came together organically. Why? Simple…because of free market capitalism.

Why Free Markets & Diversity Go Hand-in-Hand

When my client has a staffing need, it typically consists of two things: a required skillset and a budget. To fill the need, it is practical to seek out a professional who matches the desired criteria. For many business owners unaware of virtual staffing marketplaces, the typical reaction is to post a job in a local newspaper. This process can be costly, as usually the goal is to find a full-time employee. In addition, once a candidate is identified, he or she may still not have the exact skillset the company needed. With regard to building diversity, companies often go through the motions in an effort to satisfy HR “best practices”.

However, in today’s world of micro-budgets and remote teams, there’s no need to “settle” for second rate, local talent. In many cases, using a virtual marketplace like oDesk is the perfect solution. At last count, there are close to 3 million people on oDesk alone (not to mention the other competing sites). Nearly every country is represented, along with every walk of life and skill set. Many contractors are available for as much or as little (we’re talking 1 hour here) as you need. You just have to know how to find the perfect match.

Why oDesk Is a Facilitator of Free Market Capitalism

The Internet is still a friendly place to do business. In fact, I believe marketplaces such as oDesk almost perfectly match the definition of capitalism:

“an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market”.

Furthermore, free markets are defined as:

“an economic market operating by free competition”.

Here’s the bottom line. Clients who use oDesk own capital and desire to invest some of that capital to acquire a specific amount of labor. oDesk contractors desire to earn said capital by delivering value-added services at a market-driven price. At any point, the client or the contractor could choose to test the market to obtain a more favorable outcome. Sounds like free market capitalism to me!

Markets Unite, Not Divide

Someone new to hiring on oDesk may have concerns about differences in cultures and time zones. Sure, there are situations when our differences get in the way. However, in my experience the pursuit of one thing unites people of all spectrums: profit.

The 18th Century economist, Adam Smith, may have said it best when he opined:

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. (Smith, p. 14, Modern Library edition, 1937).”

Though these words are hundreds of years old, they still ring true particularly in the virtual workforce. Each person’s desire for his or her long-term success contributes to a collective net benefit.

A Diverse (& Under-Utilized) Marketplace

In summary, we live in an era when the best and brightest can still reach their fullest potential. Unfortunately, few workers and employers know about marketplaces such as oDesk. My mission with this blog, my book, and other products is to help educate the masses about such awesome tools, and in turn, help business benefit from the value of diverse skillsets.

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Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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