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Artificial Intelligence Recruitment:

Digital Dream or Dystopia of Bias?

Artificial Intelligence Recruitment:

Digital Dream or Dystopia of Bias?

Press release

London, Geneva, Berlin

Women at the Table is thrilled to launch its paper Artificial Intelligence Recruitment: Digital Dream or Dystopia of Bias? in advance of the UN Virtual Forum on Business and Human Rights.

The paper focuses on AI recruitment and gender and follows on from both Women at the Table’s Deadly Data Gap: Gender & Data* and its We Shape Our Tools, and Therefore Our Tools Shape Us” -- Affirmative Action for Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Automated Decision-Making & Gender*, a foundational document for the <A+> Alliance which Women at the Table co-leads with Fondacion Ciudadania Inteligente.

Business as usual is no longer an option. In this time of upheaval in a world rocked by global pandemic, roiled by issues of race, gender and systemic bias, where inequities in our systems threaten our democracies, we also have an opportunity: to create an inclusive digital landscape that advances the values of equality we have long espoused. We can forge a workplace culture where we all thrive.

If done right, we can use technology as an aid to our ambitions of achieving equality. We have a moment, if we seize it now, to establish new norms with new technology that brings more equalityinstead of enshrining inequality and systemic bias into the systems of our future.

AI already permeates modern recruitment from web crawlers to identify and attract favored candidates through applicant tracking systems, resumé content appraisers, gamified and classic assessments, automated interviews and interview analysis and candidate appraisal systems. A recent report estimated that 99% of Fortune 500 companies currently use Applicant Tracking Systems of some kind in their hiring process. AI is expected to replace 16% of HR jobs within the next ten years, which means that corporate dependency on these software and processes will only continue to grow.

Artificial Intelligence Recruitment: Digital Dream or Dystopia of Bias? provides practical and immediately implementable recommendations centred around accountability, inclusion, and cooperation. The recommendations include calls for strong legal frameworks to address the dynamic needs of the employment and recruitment industry to:

  • Facilitate gender equality in data by using data that is disaggregated and that responsively addresses gender insights, and that includes the concept of fairness by design.
  • Strengthen the GDPR by removing the distinction currently made between solely and non-solely automated decision-making, and strengthening transparency and explainability requirements.
  • Incorporate the Use of Algorithmic Impact Assessments that include a Human Rights Impact Assessment ("HRIA") of employment-related AI systems.
  • Establish and coordinate with independent regulatory oversight bodies for the use of AI in recruitment and employment.
  • Require human involvement in all recruitment automation systems designed or used  in order to facilitate human intervention in all AI-informed decision-making, giving the human decision-maker the ability to override any automated decision if there is a risk of discrimination or bias.
  • Build capacity through mandatory training for any individual who undertakes AI-informed decision-making or develops or inputs data into a recruitment automation system.
  • Establish a certification regime whereby an independent third party could award recruitment certification for organizations that put gender equality at the center of the design / use of AI in recruitment and employment.
  • Encourage multilateral and international cooperation grounded in human rights, to correct the mass scale skewed data systems and coordination amongst AI standardization efforts to give all of these recommendations more power and coherence.

Artificial Intelligence Recruitment: Digital Utopia or Dystopia of Bias? principal authors are Women at the Table's Caitlin Kraft-Buchman and Renée Arian. In addition, attorneys from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provided invaluable research and support in the preparation of the report, as follows: Kathlene Burke, Nicolas Etcheparre, James Anderson, David Herlihy, Eve-Christie Vermynck, Damian Babic, Jo Jimenez, Eleanor Williams, William Hardaway, Carine Louyot and Kimberly Franko Lower, and for which we are extremely grateful.

Women at the Table is a growing global civil society organization based in Geneva, Switzerland:

the first organization to focus on systems change by helping feminists gain influence in sectors that have key structural impact: technology, the economy, democracy and governance, and sustainability.

*Once again we speak of all intersections of women and girls, who serve as a proxy for all groups traditionally invisible and ‘other’ to the system – those traditionally left behind.



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