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How AI can help create more diverse, meritocratic workplaces

It’s been eight years since Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft first released diversity reports, revealing the companies’ workforces were mainly white Asian men and there was little number of women to be seen in the tech industry. This became a signal to challenge the status quo and thus companies rushed to hire consultants to provide unconscious bias training to their employees. Unfortunately, recent diversity reports show no significant improvement and, in fact, women lost ground during some of the years.
The good news is that AI brings a hope in creating a truly meritocratic and diverse workplace. According to a new study conducted by Pegasystems and Marketforce which surveyed 845 senior executives from top players in industries as diverse as financial services, insurance, telecoms, travel, insurance and manufacturing, AI could eliminate bias and lead to a more meritocratic workplace. The study finds that seven out of ten respondents (69%) believe the term ‘workforce’ will evolve to encapsulate both humans and machine intelligence. They also expect AI-augmented employees to generate tangible business returns such as more efficiency (73%) and better customer service (62%). But the effects may extend even deeper as AI transforms the way people work, are managed, and rewarded.

The question we should be asking ourselves today then is not whether AI should be incorporated into decisions impacting employment, but rather we still relying on faulty human decision-making.

Giving employees with more autonomy

By augmenting their work with machine intelligence, human employees can be empowered with more autonomy and a greater sense of job satisfaction, since they are able to search relevant information and tribal knowledge on their own. AI and robotic automation allows team members to make more informed decisions and lead to a flattening of traditional management hierarchies. In case of customer service, AI can help suggest next best actions based on the relevant knowledge and e.g. past tickets solved.

Establishing a more transparent, meritocratic workplace

As organisations increasingly come under scrutiny on equal pay for equal work issues, the study found the use of unbiased machine intelligence to analyse employee effectiveness could be the key to leveling the playing field. When there’s a lack of diversity, there’s a lack of diverse thoughts. If the population that is creating the technology is homogeneous, we’re going to get technology that is designed and works well for that specific population. A widespread use of AI could give rise to a more transparent meritocracy in the workplace by improving practices for candidates screening, evaluating employee performance and setting appropriate rewards and compensation.

By incorporating AI into employment decisions, we can mitigate unconscious bias and variability (noise) in human decision-making. We need to be aware of risks;  inc. reproducing bias in an algorithmic outcome (“garbage in, garbage out”) and the inability to detect bias due to the lack of understanding of the reason for the algorithmic outcome (“black box” problem). If we address them up front by implementing responsible AI standards, we can avoid problems caused by unconscious biases and noise in human decision making. This can increase the hiring, promotion, and retention of women in the tech industry.

AI and automation technologies have generated tremendous hype, but the potential within the enterprise remains largely untapped. By using the latest AI technologies, such as Untrite AI, coupled with the correct level of oversight and governance, organisations could become a far more diverse, meritocratic, and even harmonious place for employees., businesses can move closer to fulfilling their customer centric vision.

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