2021

Impact

Report

Woman writing notes
Hayden Brown CEO
Hayden Brown
President and CEO

Looking back at what we accomplished in 2021—from the programs we built to support our diverse workforce, to the policies and features we developed to create a safe and inclusive work marketplace—I couldn’t be prouder. Our continued progress and accomplishments, along with our commitment to working with integrity and contributing to a more sustainable future, are just the beginning as we accelerate the Work Awakening.

Haydens Signature
Read the full letter
Right Arrow

Upwork at a Glance: 2021

Woman typing on a laptop
Our Company
$503M
in revenue
$3.5B
gross services volume
771k+
active clients
$3.3B+
in talent earnings, surpassing $15B in lifetime talent earnings in 2021
Our People

50%

of Directors are women

38%

of Directors are from underrepresented communities
Leadership Team

39%

are women

25%

are from underrepresented communities
Remote - First

646

employees

1,759

members of our hybrid workforce (HWF)

700

cities across 90 countries where our team members are located

Key Accomplishments

Upwork Community
75k+
professionals reached via 245 virtual community events and webinars
2.4k
received one-on-one coaching
2.5k
obtained certifications
Giving
$800k
granted by The Upwork Foundation
8
nonprofits provided with unrestricted grants
$172k+
donated to 61 nonprofits through matching gifts
Employee Engagement and Well-being
86%
response rate for Upwork’s employee experience surveys
89
score for “Employees find meaning in Upwork’s purpose”
85%
of Upwork’s hybrid workforce recommend Upwork as a client
Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIBs)
8
Upwork Belonging Communities (UBC)
371
employees participated in at least one Upwork UBC
Launched GlowUP to support our leaders of color
About Upwork

Our Work Marketplace

We are the world’s work marketplace, where, every day, businesses of all sizes and independent talent from around the world meet to accomplish incredible things.

In 2021 we enhanced our work marketplace and expanded our service models to include offerings such as our Enterprise Suite™, Project Catalog™, and Talent Scout™. We launched the Virtual Talent Bench™ to aid in collaboration and strengthen client-talent relationships.

Our expanded offerings help companies narrow their skill gaps, accelerate agility and innovation, and prevent burnout as they scale their businesses and workforces. Talent get greater control over when, how, and with whom they work and save time and energy when finding new projects.

Read more about Upwork
Right Arrow
Trusted by
Microsoft Logo
Airbnb Logo
Logo Automatic
Bissell logo
Nasdaq logo

Our Purpose

Our vision

Independent talent at the heart of every business.

Our mission

To create economic opportunities so people have better lives

We believe that work is changing.

We believe that people are changing.

We believe that we have a role to play in shifting the market.

We believe that our values should guide our growth as a company and will lead us to achieving our mission.

Our Impact Strategy

Our Impact Priorities

Considering which issues we have the greatest potential to positively affect, and which are critical to our ability to maintain trust in the market, we synthesized our ESG materiality assessment findings into the following priorities:

Economic Opportunity

We seek to help improve people’s lives by promoting work-life balance, enabling flexibility, optimizing accessibility, and unlocking freelancers’ access to clients and industries.

Key Stats

2.4k

freelancers received one-on-one coaching

2.5k

freelancers obtained skills certifications

75k+

participants reached via 245 virtual community events

$800k

donated through The Upwork Foundation in 2021
Woman typing on a laptop

People and relationships are the cornerstone of Upwork’s business, and our Community Team plays the crucial role of listening to and fulfilling the needs of the talent on our work marketplace.

Events

Our webinars, interactive workshops, Expert Talks, and virtual community meetups in 2021 covered industry- and/or region-specific strategies for building a successful business on Upwork.

Upwork Academy

Over the past year, our Community Team began developing the Upwork Academy to connect more talent with the support they need to excel on the work marketplace.

The Upwork Foundation

In 2021, The Upwork Foundation gave a total of $800,000 to eight high-impact nonprofits that provide critical workforce training, job placement, and financial support to communities in need.

Inclusive economic opportunity

Anti-Bias Initiative

The way information is processed and presented can often worsen underlying inequities. At Upwork, we take a proactive approach to reducing systemic-level biases. In 2020, we developed our “Inclusion by Design” principles to serve as a guidepost for our team when developing any new offerings or services. These principles, which were shared across the company in 2021, are as follows:

  • Upwork creates global solutions
  • Upwork is proactive in creating an inclusive platform experience
  • Fairness is a default setting
Learn more about Economic opportunity
Right Arrow

We are a two-sided marketplace. It's important for talent to have negotiating power. They can set their rates and negotiate, and it’s important that we empower that side of the marketplace.

Aurora Kaiser
VP, Associate General Counsel, Litigation

Health, Safety, and Human Rights

Key Stats

86

average response rate for our Employee Engagement Surveys

89

score for "Employees find meaning in Upwork's purpose"

85%

of Upwork's hybrid workforce said they'd recommend Upwork as a client
Upwork empowers people to connect and work with clients of their choosing on their terms. Along with building a safe, diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace, we go above industry standards to ensure people have access to safe work environments that prioritize human rights.

At Upwork, we have chosen to define our work by our vision, rather than by the virus.

We cannot deny the innumerable effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on the safety, security, and wellbeing of many around the world. We are deeply thankful for the frontline workers that continue to place our collective good above their own wellbeing, and we acknowledge the sacrifices that every individual has made to cope with the added responsibilities of life at home.

Our Freelancing and Flexibility study found that 50% of freelancers said they were unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances, such as health issues or childcare needs.
COVID-19 only exacerbated this issue. These statistics confirm our long-held belief that traditional models of work are in need of change and reinforce our commitment to shift market norms.

Workforce Programs and Benefits

In our commitment to shift the market, rather than react to it, we’re continuously pushing ourselves to find better ways to care for our people. Along with our child-care subsidy program, the launch of our Care.com partnership was instrumental in helping caretakers find and secure quality home- and center-based child and elderly care.

In 2021, we offered weekly stretching and meditation sessions hosted by a freelancer on Upwork. Our partnership with Modern Health also covers free health and wellness coaching in the form of virtual video or text therapy and guided digital programs and meditations. See our full list of benefits.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIBs)

Belonging is a feeling, inclusion is a practice, diversity is an outcome.

Diversity by Numbers

Board
50%
25%
13%
Women
Men
From underrepresented communities
LGBTQIA+
Leadership Team
38%
25%
Female
CEO
Women
Men
From underrepresented communities
Global Corporate Employees by Gender
52%
48%
Women
Men
Non-binary or not shared
US Employees by Race/Ethnic Group
57%
White
22%
Asian
7%
Black or African American
6%
Hispanic or Latinx
7%
Other
<1%
American Indian or Alaska Native
<1%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
GlowUP Program

GlowUP is Upwork’s enrichment program crafted by and for our leaders of color in collaboration with Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning. We completed two modules of the program in 2021 that consisted of 60-90 minute sessions.

Read more about GlowUP
Man looking at a laptop

Upwork Belonging Communities

UBCs serve a critical role in forging relationships and creating a sense of connection and belonging within our growing hybrid workforce.

With the support of our DIBs team, our UBC leaders—employees across the company who develop UBC strategy and programming—drive employee engagement and impact.

Read the full report

Environmental Sustainability

Carbon neutral since

2019

Remote-first since

2020

Because remote work reduces both work-related commutes and business travel, Upwork is a natural ally in the fight against climate change.

Our Environmental Commitments

In 2021, we adopted a new Global Environmental Policy that outlines our environmental commitments related to the following areas:

Compliance
Resource Efficiency and Waste
Oversight
Effective Management
Transparency
Employees
Carbon Neutrality
Business Partners

2021 emissions verified by a third party

Annual Emissions (MTCO2e)
Scope 1*
Scope 2
Scope 3
600
400
200
0
* 0 scope 1 emmissions
201
523
2020
156
274
2021

Business Integrity

Integrity is the fiber of our business. Upwork upholds strong governance practices to ensure employees act ethically and that clients and freelancers are held accountable to one another.

Our materiality assessment reinforced the fact that stakeholders care deeply about our commitment to ethical business practices, data security and privacy, responsible use of data, and emerging tech and ethics.

Learn more about Business Integrity
Right Arrow

Business Ethics

We have a robust set of corporate codes, policies, and guidelines in place to support and promote integrity, transparency, and ethical business practices, including our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, Corporate Governance Guidelines, Whistleblower Policy, Insider Trading Policy, Related Party Transactions Policy, Corporate Communications Policy, Anti-Corruption Policy, Social Media Policy, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement, and Open Source Use Policy.

Platform Policies

Our on-platform policies extend our commitment to ethical practices to our work marketplace and are designed to build trust not only in Upwork, but among our customers. These policies include:

Terms of Service
Right Arrow
Privacy Policy
Right Arrow
Nondiscrimination Statement
Right Arrow
Commitment to Nondiscrimination, Inclusion, and Respect
Right Arrow
Payment Protection Policy
Right Arrow

Further guidance on how to safely, securely, and ethically use the work marketplace can be found on our trust and safety page.

Information Security and Data Privacy

Upwork deploys cutting-edge security and privacy best practices designed to provide a secure, reliable, and compliant work marketplace for businesses of all sizes. We meet rigorous privacy and security industry certifications and view compliance with the most stringent privacy laws, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to keeping customer data private and safe.

800+
team members participated in Cyber Security Month programs
19+
teams competed in an escape-room-themed training
12
security training videos accessed by team members
100
team members participated in our Jeopardy-themed games

Supplier Engagement

We strive to work with suppliers that meet the needs of our business and align with our mission. In 2021, we created our Supplier Code of Conduct, to clarify our expectations of our suppliers and strengthen our supply chain management.
Inclusive Sourcing

Upwork’s Inclusive Sourcing program is designed to help underrepresented communities compete, build wealth, and thrive. In 2021, we challenged ourselves to increase representation of underrepresented suppliers in our RFP exercises and increase underrepresented supplier spend going forward.

We want our supply base to mirror the customers and communities we serve. We’ve made a commitment to keep inclusive sourcing front of mind as we purchase products and services.

Jeff McCombs,
Chief Financial Officer

Customer spotlight

Motunrayo Image

I was looking for something that would let me earn from home. When I started on the Upwork platform, it gave me the flexibility I wanted. That’s one of the things I enjoy the most about it as opposed to working on-site.

Motunrayo Kilanko,
Data Annotator

One of the things I love most about working on Upwork is that I am now able to see the impact my work is having directly on my clients’ businesses on a day-to-day basis.

Matt Chester,
Energy Analyst

It’s not just a marketplace for finding interesting contractors, it’s much more than that. The relationships you build there are amazing.

Quilen Blackwell,
Southside Blooms

Read the full report

Read the full report