Podcast, VideoOctober 3 2018

Redefining Benefits for Future Workers

Carmen Rojas, Rachel Schneider, Tamara K. Nopper, Aiha Nguyen

Databite No. 115

Silicon Valley hopes to leverage data in order to disrupt the credit systems that many low-wage workers rely on. But at what cost?

The Workers Lab Co-Founder and CEO Carmen Rojas; Entrepreneur and Author Rachel Schneider; and Professor, Researcher, and Activist Tamara K. Nopper discuss the intersection of fintech and credit and benefit systems for low-wage workers with Data & Society Labor Engagement Lead Aiha Nguyen.



Rojas and Schneider both focus on the financial challenges facing precarious low-wage workers–including “gig” workers–and these workers might need different benefits than have traditionally been provided, like retirement. Nopper offers insight into the world of credit scoring and data, analyzing how fintech “innovation” intersects with race, class, and gender wealth gaps. Nguyen is an organizer who works to bridge research and practice, expanding understanding of technological systems’ impact on work. Together, they discuss questions such as:

  • How will current and projected income volatility in the gig economy change available workplace benefits?
  • What role could fintech play on the future of work? Can workers be a part of shaping that future?
  • What data will low-income working families need to give up in order to have access to capital–and will it be worth it?

Dr. Carmen Rojas is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Workers Lab, an organization that invests in experiments and innovation to build power for working people in the 21st century. For more than 20 years, Carmen has worked with foundations, financial institutions, and non-profits to improve the lives of working people across the United States.

Carmen currently sits on the boards of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Neighborhood Funders Group, General Service Foundation, JOLT, Certification Associates, and on the Advisory Boards of Fund Good Jobs and Floodgate Academy.

Carmen holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007.

Rachel Schneider is the Omidyar Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program and co-author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty. Rachel’s research has been featured in the nation’s top publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and many others. Though she began her career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co., Rachel credits her commitment to the potential for innovative finance to solve major social problems from her days as a VISTA Volunteer (now AmeriCorps). She holds a J.D./M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.

Tamara K. Nopper has a PhD in Sociology and her teaching and research focuses on the intersection of economic, racial, and gender inequality, with a particular emphasis on entrepreneurship, banking, globalization, urban development, and money and surveillance. Her publications have examined immigrant entrepreneurship, minority business development, the globalization of ethnic banking, and Asian American communities. Her current work looks at Korean immigrant entrepreneurship and post-Civil Rights era minority politics.

About Databites

Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.