Harnessing Creativity & Technology to Meet the Needs of Ordinary People
Palak Shah is the Social Innovations Director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), the leading voice for the millions of women who work as domestic workers, women who have been excluded from U.S. labor laws for decades. The NDWA, founded in 2007 and consisting of 55 organizations around the country, champions an eight-value framework called the Good Work Code, which includes principles like safety, transparency, stability, flexibility, and inclusion. Shah helps domestic workers navigate challenges that derive from their jobs moving online—how to leave a job that feels unsafe, for instance, without fearing the repercussions of a negative rating on an app.
Shah sees technology as a tool that isn’t inherently good or bad. She is optimistic that tech, governments, and social movements can collaborate to make positive changes in the lives of workers. “The challenge is figuring out whose problems we’re solving,” says Shah, “and whether we’re creating more problems than we’re solving.” Too often, Shah says, Silicon Valley focuses on the demand side of products without giving enough consideration to the supply-side. She believes that shifting this paradigm will not only benefit workers, but can also improve a company’s chances of success. “The level of creativity that we have seen emerge in a very short amount of time in this part of the economy—if we can figure out how to harness that, not just to meet the needs of investors, but to meet the needs of ordinary people—we might have an opportunity to fundamentally shift the course of history,” says Shah.