Organizations are investing heavily in Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). In fact, according to Time Magazine, D&I Initiatives represent a multi-billion dollar a year industry.
In June, at the Society of Human Resource Management conference, we held meetings with LinkedIn. The future growth of their company rests squarely on AI (Artificial Intelligence). This is mostly due to help organizations achieve greater diversity and inclusion.
AI is many things, but it is increasingly seen as a central platform. The more people view it this way, the more we assume it to be a silver-bullet panacea. And, while it is many things, it’s not the only thing. Implementation of AI – essentially deferring decisions to machines which have always been made by humans such as whom to hire – would require an extraordinary shift of culture, beliefs, values and habits within organizations. Right, or wrong, most changes on organizational levels such as these are gradual and take time.
Just ask Malcom Gladwell. In his new book, “Talking to Strangers”, he explains our culture around human judgment and how people commonly misunderstand strangers which can result in perilous consequences. Gladwell also gives examples of how, all too often, flawed human decision making can be. Gladwell disproves commonly-held beliefs and raises our level of conscious awareness to reductionist stereotypes and wrongful application of things such as our law enforcement policies and practices. Which, in his mind, created the environment for Black Lives Matter.
Artificial Intelligence is not an all-or-nothing situation. It must involve humans and work alongside them to solve people problems. Human involvement gives technology its application. In order for AI programs to improve operations, it needs to be more aware of unconscious bias. It is perhaps its first, and most, relevant application. Unconscious bias play out in gender, race, class and even diversity of thought. It is commonly believed to exist and often starts with traditional hiring practices. Knowing the gender, race or even name of a candidate introduces bias. The types of leading questions, based upon faulty assumptions, asked by those who interview prospective hires, along with the references they make, are steeped in biases as well.
As a job candidate, it is especially important for women and women of color to identify, and call out, unconscious gender bias. It will help you determine cultural fit with future employers and better assess behaviors, along with tendencies and future indicators, of hiring managers. For women, gender diversity can be a determining factor in the start, and ongoing development, of your career.
In future posts, we will study some foundations of gender bias. Our purpose in doing so is to pass along important aspects, based upon research, to help guide the successful start and ongoing progression of your career.
Why are people who claim to be objective actually the most biased? How are women breadwinners, which comprise 30% of households today, perceived by others? Why, irrespective of your authenticity, do people expect you to be consistent with stereotypes of the group to which you belong? Reconnect with us in future posts as we explore these and other topics closely related to gender diversity.