How AI can help build a diverse workforce

Technology can not only help remove biases from recruitment, it can also help create fairer opportunities and improve diversity, say Maria Moraes Robinson and Simon Robinson

The drive towards digital transformation has elevated HR to a strategic role in the boardroom. The reason is that we are now experiencing a convergence of three major social and economic trends relating to the accelerated use of advanced technologies; the move to hybrid ways of working and a call for greater inclusivity, equity and social justice. 

These trends represent a major opportunity for leaders to understand the way in which deep technologies, such as AI, can help amplify the internal qualities of their organisations, so their value and impact can be amplified externally, across ecosystems, society and our planet.

At present, less than 50 per cent of companies are utilising AI in at least some form in their HR departments. However, advances in AI mean that we will soon see a rapid uptake to improve all aspects of recruitment processes, thereby helping to eliminate human biases, which may be operating against minority groups. One example of AI being used in this way is in the modification of the wordings of job advertisements in order to remove any bias of one gender over another.

Large organisations normally have thousands of potential job candidates each year applying for jobs. The natural-language processing capabilities of AI have progressed to a level where complex and strategic questions can be posed to candidates and then analysed by machine intelligence. 

The challenge for organisations wishing to improve their diversity and inclusion practices is in developing automated HR processes that all people from minority groups will trust, and this means ensuring that the decision-making process is transparent, fair and secure.

Although AI is being used to remove human bias, the technology has by no means yet been perfected, with computational algorithms also suffering from cognitive bias. For example, LinkedIn discovered bias in their recommendation engine and Amazon’s AI algorithm was discovered to be biased against women. HR teams, therefore, always need to work extremely hard to ensure that their recruitment processes are not excluding high-caliber, talented candidates who may not necessarily have the traditional educational backgrounds that organisations normally seek. 

AI is not only being used to eliminate bias in recruitment processes, it is also being deployed to help employers create fairer promotion opportunities and compensation programs. Whereas humans often have an unconscious idea about who may or may not be ready for promotion, AI can test skills, aptitudes and readiness in a way which helps candidates break through glass ceilings to reach senior positions. Deep analytical tools which utilise AI can also help HR professionals analyse market data to eliminate any disparities that may arise through discrimination based on gender, race or other factors.

AI can also contribute to diversity in the workplace by helping organisations to implement solutions to aid disabled people. In the last ten years, legislation has focused on improving the accessibility of websites. These advances are now being improved further by the use of AI in communications technologies and remote collaboration platforms, such as real time closed captioning in video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Google Meet.

One of the core reasons for organisations not currently having diverse workplaces is the lack of access to educational resources. Deep tech can also be used to create digital educational platforms that improve the quality and accessibility of education for children and adults and, at the same time, develop their self-esteem. Cutting-edge AI-driven platforms need to be integrated into programs which prepare people to help them make full use of technologies they would have previously been excluded from.

Deep tech must have, as its foundation, the five universal human values of peace, truth, love, righteousness and non-violence. These values are universal – for millennia they have been seen across many different cultural traditions as the highest expression of humanity. When these are being fully lived by people in the workplace, organisations are able to elevate the value that they provide to both customers and their wider stakeholders, operating authentically with empathy, and where diversity is truly valued.

Simon Robinson is CEO (worldwide) and Maria Moraes Robinson is CEO (Brazil) at Holonomics. They are co-authors of Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation