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Is AI the Answer to Ending Unconscious Bias within Recruitment?

Emma Jennings-Hester September 24, 2018

Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who went to the same university as them? Has similar interests? And of course a fantastic CV?

For me I could chat about any ASOS promotion and the joy that Newcastle provided me in the form of 3 trebles for a fiver, oh, and that their skills set is ideal for the job. Sounds good so far? Not quite. That hiring process would have been entirely influenced by unconscious biases. Let us explain how AI can help in mitigating the objectivity inherent in human nature.

Humans are Pretty Naff at Processing what is Thrown our Way…

It takes less than a fifth of a second for unconscious judgements to be formed, that’s faster than the time it takes for someone to recognise a person’s face. It’s been suggested that we are bombarded with 11 million pieces of information at any one time, yet we can only process 40, so the human brain is forced into taking shortcuts.

Artificial Intelligence has the capacity to process all of the information presented, whilst digesting it in a fashion that humans simply cannot achieve: without bias. Further benefits include the time it saves: it’s a widely accepted fact that machines are more efficient than humans.

Bob’s your Uncle? He’s More Likely to get the Job

The unconscious biases go deeper than preferring a candidate because they attended the same school as you. Countless studies have suggested that the connotations attached to someone’s name have a direct influence upon the likelihood of interview, due to presumptions made about race and ethnicity. Gender also has an influence upon the impact a CV has, with applications completed by men resulting in the candidate being viewed as more competent and employable.

Whilst it’s wrong that these factors still have an effect in 2018, the truth needs to be faced and measures put in place to ensure discrimination is avoided throughout the hiring process. AI isn’t programmed to judge a candidate on whether or not their name is Destiny or Alice, but instead who is the ideal candidate for the role.

Time to Conquer Fear and Change Perceptions

Fear is the biggest contributor within decision making: specifically the fear of making a mistake and the consequences that may follow. The use of technology displaces that fear inherent within humans, replacing it, quite simply, with logic. Perhaps this form of recruitment is the answer to the abolishment of gendered roles. Iris Bohnet, the author of What Works: Gender Equality by Design, suggests that “seeing is believing”. For instance, the reason that we don’t picture engineers as women is because they’re not seen, thus there is no connotation made.

If candidates are viewed as their profile, and not by where they went to university, what their name is and what gender they are, the workforce becomes one which is diversified, thus more dynamic, creative and innovative.

Emma Jennings-Hester September 24, 2018

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