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AI can reduce bias in hiring, but it may not be enough

Sarah Paynter

If artificial intelligence takes bias out of the hiring process, will that finally make the hiring process fair for minorities?

Not necessarily, said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology and innovation officer, at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit. AI hiring tools connects companies with more diverse, better quality candidates, said Robert Falzon, vice chairman of Prudential Financial, Inc.

“Just from a recruiting standpoint, using artificial intelligence to do the screening of individuals instead of that first interview, what we find, frankly, is we get better quality candidates with more diversity when we take the human out of that first equation,” Falzon said.

While there are potential flaws, AI improves the overall hiring experience, said Falzon.

“It's a way in which you can use technology to, frankly, improve the experience for the individuals that are interviewing for the position, and improve the experience of our HR and hiring areas that are stretched in terms of their ability to… spend time on… cultivating the right pipeline of talent,” said Falzon.

But that may not be enough if diverse candidates have not had the same opportunities as others to receive training, said Daugherty.

“The risk right now is, there's people who are in [diverse] categories that won't have the right skills for those jobs. So that's [investing in people to make sure they have the right skills] really where the focus needs to be,” said Daugherty, the author of “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 10: Vice chairman of Prudential Financial Robert Falzon (L) and Paul Daugherty attend the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West Events on October 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Daugherty warns that artificial intelligence systems may not have the vision for investing in diverse candidates, a flaw that could reinforce a pattern of rising inequality and low wages.

“We have to invest in people to make sure they have the right skills,” he said. “And if we invest in people to make sure they have the right skills, confident and convinced we'll have enough jobs that meet the requirements, that provide[s] people with the careers they're looking for.”

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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