CXO

How IBM wants to use Watson AI to reduce bias in hiring

Watson Recruitment's new Adverse Impact Analysis capability can identify bias related to age, gender, race, and education in an organization's hiring practices.

On Monday, IBM announced the launch of Watson Recruitment's Adverse Impact Analysis capability, a feature that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help companies make better, unbiased hires. The tool analyzes an organization's historical hiring data, and identifies instances of bias related to age, gender, race, education, or previous employer, helping HR professionals to root out bias in its hiring trends and avoid it in the future.

AI has great promise for HR professionals in general—33% of CHROs said they believe AI will revolutionize the way they do business over the next few years, a recent IBM study found. However, AI will not fully overtake their roles, or those of all other human employees, the study found—65% of CEOs surveyed said that people skills will have a strong impact on their business over the next several years.

The average hiring manager receives hundreds of applicants a day for certain positions, and can only spend about 6 seconds on each resume, IBM found. Therefore, the ability to make strong decisions without analytics and AI is limited, and can create further unconscious bias in hiring, according a press release.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

"We see this development as a tool that will put CHROs and HR leaders on the front lines of shaping tomorrow's workforce," the release stated. "We see that workforce as highly personalized at the employee level, highly collaborative across the enterprise, and one that draws on a vast and diverse range of expertise and experience without bias."

Companies including BuzzFeed and H&R Block have already used the Adverse Impact Analysis tool, according to the release. IBM's goal is to ensure organizations select job candidates based on ability alone, the release noted.

"Using AI trained with unbiased data, an organization can be secure in the knowledge that the chosen candidate was the one best suited for the role," the release stated. "The result is a stronger workplace that is more diverse, fosters fresh perspectives, and promotes an inclusive atmosphere free of bias."

It should be noted that IBM itself is currently facing a lawsuit filed by former employees after a ProPublica report alleged that the company has fired more than 20,000 employees over age 40 in the last six years.

You can read more tips on how to remove bias based on age, race, and gender on TechRepublic.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • IBM Watson Recruitment's Adverse Impact Analysis tool uses AI to help companies make better, unbiased hires.
  • The Adverse Impact Analysis tool analyzes an organization's historical hiring data, and identifies instances of bias related to age, gender, race, education, or previous employer.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/AndreyPopov

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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