How Artificial Intelligence May Automate Prejudice in HR

What does a Human Resources AI look for in candidates?

Recently I read an article about the coming wave of Artificial Intelligence to help screen candidates for human resource departments.

Since I do professional coaching I talk to job hunters about navigating all the filtering systems you encounter in the process. The most common being Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).

Which is the reason most candidates’ resumes are never seen by a human.

It’s easy to view HR AI as just taking ATS to the next level. Allowing a deeper filter that doesn’t just filter out resumes, but individual responses to question, body language and speech patterns.

From Interviewed‘s co-founder: “It’s now beginning to automate the assessment of what cofounder Chris Bakke describes as “softer skills,” by using computerized analysis to identify speech patterns among, for example, empathetic individuals.”

Where we fall in the gray zone, and the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we automating bias?

As with all systems of scale, they are designed for compliance and conformity. Based on speech patterns alone this can easily lead to filtering immigrants, minorities, and poor people.

When you grow up in an impoverished minority community you tend to have different speech patterns from middle-class white America.

Call it ebonics, Black-American vernacular or whatever. If you’re from a poor colored neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, you probably grew up sounding different from your average corporate America employee.

I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve known over the years that still have touches of our local dialect from the hood. Even though they eventually went on to college and completed a degree.

They are professionals but are branded by their undesired American accent.

For most people working in corporate America, such issues don’t affect you much.

Yet when we create systems that limit upward social mobility for those that have to work three times harder just to get out of poverty, we are going in the wrong direction.

juan mirelez

Juan Mirelez
Founder & CEO

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