Can A.I. remove human bias from the hiring process?
AI may help organizations overcome unconscious biases in hiring and increase diversity.
This series on diversity and inclusion is sponsored by Amway, which supports a prosperous economy through having a diverse workplace. Companies committed to diversity and inclusion are better equipped to innovate and drive performance. For more information, visit amwayglobal.com/our-story.
The world is becoming a more diverse place. And companies that don’t hire employees accordingly will lose out on crucial talent for generations to come. Standing in the way of increased workplace diversity, however, is often the unconscious biases of those doing the hiring.
What is ‘unconscious bias’? It’s any prejudice we have without being aware that we have it. We naturally form stronger bonds, for example, with people who look and act like us, which can gradually create highly homogenous workplaces (see: resume whitening).
But artificial intelligence may be able to see around our biases, so to speak, and help create an employee roster that’s not only more equitable but more talented as well.
Unconscious bias is a workplace hazard
In the book “The Inclusion Element,” authors Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan say that we all have biases we aren't aware of. And these unconscious biases translate into behaviors “that can have big impacts on fairness and inclusiveness.” When biases get embedded systemically into an organization, they can affect its ability to “fully engage its marketplace” and negatively impacts performance. This is especially so if the bias comes from the leader of the group or company.
“Not only does bias result in less than optimal decisions, it also affects performance in a more indirect way,” say Kaplan and Donovan. “A large body of research on the Pygmalion effect and self-fulfilling prophecy has demonstrated that leaders’ perceptions and expectations directly affect the performance of their staff.”
They recommend making biases visible in order to address them and improve the group’s diversity.
How artificial intelligence can help
To increase diversity and get around one of the major obstacles in combating bias - humans, a number of startups have sprung up that attempt to employ artificial intelligence in making hiring decisions. San Francisco-based Mya Systems, for example, created a chatbot named Mya that is used by several large recruitment agencies as the initial step in a job interview, reports Wired. The bot is able to evaluate the educational and professional backgrounds of the candidates as well as their level of interest. It also elaborates on the specifics of the job and answers questions on company policies and culture.
Other AI-based programs like HireVue utilize intelligent video- and text-based software to predict the best performers for each job by focusing on as many as 25,000 data points from video interviews. HireVue is used by companies such as Intel and Nike. Is it good for the potential employees? According to HireVue’s CTO Loren Larsen, by using HireVue, candidates are “getting the same shot regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, employment gaps, or college attended.”
Of course, there are detractors, who warn that AI algorithms are only as unbiased as the people who programmed them. Inevitably, the prejudices of the creators find their way into the data used by the AI as well as its decision-making process.
Still, fighting biases during the hiring stage is a worthwhile effort, especially in light of the fact that trying to change a biased culture that already exists may be a near impossibility, according to a study aptly named “Pointless Diversity Training: Unconscious Bias, New Racism and Agency” from the Queen Mary University of London. Mike Noon, the author of the study, calls unconscious bias training programs a “fashion” that is ”based on unproven suppositions and is unlikely to help eliminate racism in the workplace.” He found that identifying biases does not automatically cause changes in the behavior of managers and employees.
The scientist sees a danger in the fact that unconscious bias training efforts can often be quick and showy fixes for companies rather than “on-going and possibly lengthy process of reflection, discussion and awareness-raising.” Changing the company’s culture is more than fads that are “suited to a resurgence in behavioural science in an era of big data,” writes Noon.
“Diversity itself does not ensure innovation”
What are the benefits of having a diverse workplace beside being an inclusive place to conduct business?
One argument is that having a diverse group can improve the ability of that group to come up with innovative solutions to work tasks. As write Earl Lewis and Nancy Cantor in the introduction to Scott E. Page’s The Diversity Bonus, there is an advantage to be gained in having diverse individuals come together as a team in today’s “highly charged, competitive, fast-changing work settings.” Fluid work environments where people have to deal with an ever-increasing flow of information require more than talented people but an ability for all not to think the same thing, which may prevent success.
“The relevant ability of an individual may not suffice—especially if those in the room share almost the same knowledge and set of approaches to problems that require the flow of all kinds of insights and the application of varied tools,” say Lewis and Canton. “Success may depend on the cognitive diversity that makes for intelligent teams."
As David Livermore sees it in his book Driven by Difference, just having a diverse workplace will not necessarily help the company to perform better. But given the right approach to diversity, it can become a powerful tool in creating innovation. What’s important is to foster the growth of cultural intelligence within your team.
“Diversity by itself does not ensure innovation, “ explains Livermore. “Diversity combined with high cultural intelligence (CQ) does. Cultural intelligence is the capability to function effectively in culturally diverse situations."
Innovators don't ignore risk; they are just better able to analyze it in uncertain situations.
If you want flexibility, transparency, and decent health policies, it seems like working in tech pays off.
- The website Glassdoor has released their rankings of the top CEOs and companies to work for during the pandemic.
- The rankings were based on a study of reviews placed on their website by employees which mentioned COVID or CEO performence.
- The study isn't quite definitive, but offers an insight into what employees want during times of crisis.
How to succeed in business when times are very trying:<p>The <a href="https://www.glassdoor.com/research/highest-rated-ceos-coronavirus/" target="_blank">survey</a> considered recently submitted reviews about working for large companies that also included assessments of their leadership. Only reviews left between March 1<sup>st</sup> and July 31<sup>st</sup>, 2020, were considered, with particular attention paid to high-quality reviews that focused on leadership's actions during the pandemic. Using these reviews, a scoring system was created to rank the companies and order them.</p> <p>A quick review of the top companies shows about a third of them are in <a href="https://www.techrepublic.com/article/glassdoor-the-top-8-tech-ceos-during-covid-19/" target="_blank">tech</a>, with representatives from the world of finance, health care, and insurance also making appearances. Among the top-scoring companies was Zoom Communications and its CEO Eric Yuan, the company behind the video calling application that many people have recently turned to. The highest scoring company was Mercury Systems, an aerospace and defense technology company, and its CEO <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/glassdoor-names-mercury-ceo-mark-131500203.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mark Aslett</a>. </p><p>Few, if any, of the CEOs on the list are well known to the casual reader. The most famous is undoubtedly Mark Zuckerberg, who came in eighth on the list of UK employers. Only one woman made the list at all, perhaps reflecting the low percentage of large companies helmed by <a href="https://econlife.com/2020/02/fewer-female-ceos-2/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">women</a>. Likewise, only a handful of non-white men were to be found either, likely for similar <a href="https://247wallst.com/investing/2020/07/07/only-11-of-sp-500-companies-have-ceos-of-color-and-it-gets-worse/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reasons</a>. </p><p>In an interview with <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-09-17/eight-tech-execs-one-woman-on-top-ceo-list-video" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bloomberg</a>, Glassdoor's Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain explained that the reviews suggest that many of the top-rated companies shared "clear and transparent communication with employees about what is going on during a pandemic, second, providing flexibility, work from home, giving workers the tools they need to keep doing their jobs, and third polices that support (the) health and safety of employees first." <strong></strong></p><p>A glance at the reviews used to compile the study endorses this view, with many explicitly praising commitments to transparency and flexibility. </p>
And now, the grains of salt:<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iMM3zxVoGZc" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>This survey considered only companies with more than 1000 employees at the end of the review period, leaving out any excellently run, but smaller, operations. Of these larger enterprises, only those with more than 50 upper management (25 for firms based in the UK) were analyzed. Reviews made by interns were not counted towards this minimum. Companies that performed well, but with employees who didn't feel the need to write reviews of their employer on the internet, were left out of the running.</p><p>Despite these limitations, the study does offer an insight into what employees wanted from corporate leadership during the pandemic and who could provide it. Companies hoping to do better during the next public health crisis would do well to consider the choices made by these executives. Those looking for greener pastures might also consider applying to work at these places. </p>
A team at the University of Basel discovered a connection between antidepressants and REM sleep.
- Researchers at the University of Basel measured the efficacy of antidepressants by measuring brain waves during REM sleep.
- Antidepressants take weeks to begin working, and over 50 percent of users don't find success with the first prescription.
- This research could offer a powerful new diagnostic tool for psychiatrists and doctors.
Should you "hack" your sleep pattern? | Vanessa Hill | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af84e812903700afbdc0c73e6b7c619e"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1Y-qLKZWyDs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>University of Basel's Dr Thorsten Mikoteit led the research. His team studied 37 volunteers suffering from major depression, with 15 in the control group. Everyone's brain waves were measured while asleep. By gazing at these waves, the researchers identified patterns that could predict whether or not the volunteer would benefit from an antidepressant.</p><p>Through their observations, the researchers were able to suggest a different medication if they did not seem to respond to the first. After five weeks, 87.5 percent of the patients in the treatment group showed an improved response to medication, compared to only 20 percent in the control group. </p><p>It should be noted that this is a pilot study and has not yet been peer reviewed. Still, Mikoteit sees hope in the protocol. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We have been able to show that by predicting the non-response to antidepressants we were able to adapt the treatment strategy more or less immediately: this enables us to significantly shorten the average duration between start of antidepressant treatment and response, which is vital especially for seriously depressed patients."</p><p>Poor sleep is an indicator of numerous health problems, including anxiety and depression. Getting an inside view of sleep patterns could be a game-changer for the hundreds of millions of people that regularly suffer from depression. If this research holds up, doctors could have a powerful new diagnostic tool at their fingertips. The time, money, and health risks associated with faulty prescriptions could be avoided—a win for patients and the health care system overall. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
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