How AI Can Reduce Bias in Hiring
Everybody is talking about unconscious hiring bias and many suggestions have been made on how to reduce unconscious biases in the recruitment process. From blind resumes, skill tests, video interviews, to restructured interviews, everyone has ideas on how to reduce bias in hiring decisions. These tools do help to reduce hiring bias, however, they don’t completely eliminate the risk. There are a variety of types of bias, both conscious and unconscious, and they can influence human recruiters in almost unnoticeable ways. So, what are we missing? Is it even possible to completely eradicate bias?
Truth be told, if we only rely on a “human” fix for bias, we may never get there. The difficulty of unconscious bias is right there in the title: it is UNconscious. So people are either not aware of the bias and cannot fix it, or they need to be hyper-aware at all times of potential biases and pitfalls.
Everyone has biases that subtly influence their thinking. One of the most common forms of bias, affinity bias, encourages people to seek out people who look, think, and act similarly to themselves. This bias could be embedded in our DNA: our evolutionary psychology often compels us on some level to seek out community members who are already similar to ourselves. Affinity bias leads to workforce homogeneity and can be difficult to combat. That’s why a recent study by Harvard Business Review found that even companies committed to diversity often fail to achieve it.
Luckily, where our brains fail us, technology can pick up the slack. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to completely revolutionize the recruitment and hiring process. A well-designed AI-based hiring tool could jumpstart your recruiting as well as reduce any potential biases that could come into play during the hiring process. Here’s why.
Using AI, Hiring Bias Can Be Eliminated
AI technology analyzes massive amounts of data and utilizing algorithms and machine learning can determine who would be the best and most qualified candidates based on the available data. With each new data point, the AI gets better at processing and recognizing stellar candidates. This type of large-scale processing is beyond the scope of what the human brain is capable of. Best of all, the AI assesses this data without being burdened with assumptions and biases.
Artificial intelligence technology can also be programmed to only look at specific information. For example, it is entirely possible to create an AI system that is “blind” to demographic data such as race and gender. This prevents the AI from looking at anything beyond skills and experience, so it judges candidates based on those criteria alone. While human hiring managers may never be able to separate a person from their resume, AI can do it with ease, achieving a more diverse workforce.
AI Puts Recruitment into Overdrive
A person working in Human Resources may have a variety of duties and responsibilities outside of recruitment and hiring. Companies sometimes receive thousands of resumes for an open position. A human talent acquisition specialist simply does not have the time or processing power to assess the entire candidate pipeline. Shortcuts have to be created in order to find a great candidate in a timely manner. This means qualified candidates will undoubtedly be overlooked and passed over, especially when things like gender bias, affinity bias, confirmation bias, or even the halo effect come into play.
Artificial intelligence lifts the burden of parsing through resumes and does it faster than any human recruiter ever could. AI systems access every single applicant in the recruitment pipeline, whether there are hundreds or hundreds of thousands. AI technology can quickly look at every candidate and recommend those who would be the best fit for the position. With AI, no candidate slips through the cracks or goes unnoticed. In addition, it allows HR to focus on other efforts and reduces overall time-to-hire.
AI Can Improve Diversity and Inclusion
AI will play a critical role in diversifying the workforce. A well-designed AI system can provide an unbiased overview of an applicant’s skills and abilities, ensuring that every candidate that comes through your pipeline will have an equitable shot at landing the position. That’s not all it can do, either. AI is also being used to identify bias in job descriptions, hiring patterns, and even in reviews of job performance.
These AI tools can be a gamechanger for recruiters who want to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Reducing bias in all stages of the recruitment process gives underrepresented candidates a chance to truly shine. Artificial intelligence can be trained to ignore demographics or even prioritize certain demographics based on your hiring goals. For example, an organization with majority male leadership may decide they need to increase gender diversity within their management. An AI can be tapped to parse, evaluate, and recommend female candidates for open positions.
Artificial Intelligence Can Always Be Improved
One of artificial intelligence’s fatal flaws is that it is only as good as the data used to train it. Amazon was lambasted in the past for creating hiring AI that prioritized male candidates over female ones. Since the data used to “train” the AI was heavily biased towards men and was not programmed to ignore demographic information, the AI itself picked up the gender bias of its creators. Creating hiring AI requires careful consideration, programming, and frequent human oversight.
The good news is that AI hiring bias is much easier to spot. By performing an audit of recent hire demographics and the AI itself, you can identify patterns that indicate bias. This allows organizations to adjust their algorithms, update their data set, and eliminate any bias that rears its head. If you discover your hiring manager has an unconscious bias towards a specific group, there is nothing that can be done except to find a new manager. If you discover your AI has a bias towards a specific group, it can be reprogrammed and retrained so that the bias is excised.
Technology may not always be perfect, but it’s easier to reprogram an AI than it is a human brain.
Smart Technology = Smart Hiring
Artificial intelligence, when used correctly, can speed up and greatly reduce hiring bias. The reduction of hiring bias is critical to creating an inclusive workplace where employees of all backgrounds can flourish. Women, BIPOC, veterans, and disabled people are all hired at lower rates than their white male counterparts despite being equally qualified. Underrepresented groups don’t lack qualified talent; they are systematically disadvantaged by biased recruitment and hiring practices.
The strategic and ethical implementation of AI is necessary to create a truly equitable recruitment process. Technology provides us with the tools we need to overcome our unconscious biases; it’s just a matter of using them efficiently and effectively.