Artificial intelligence (AI) has already changed many parts of our lives, yet the adoption of AI in the Talent Management arena is still limited. However, I do believe it has a future, as it is one of the best tools for efficiency and it has the opportunity to help us to deal with the challenges we face around the diversity of our workforces, which we know will help our businesses be more successful. For many years I’ve discussed with leaders how we can improve the diversity of our businesses, as we’ve all faced similar challenges which has meant we’ve not been able to move the needle on diversity as quickly as we would like, particularly in STEM and Leadership roles.

This led me to investigating how technology can help us and there is lots out there. Whilst Talent Management has continued to evolve over the past ten years, some companies have led the way with the use of AI in the area however, in many ways how we recruit in lots of organisations hasn’t changed significantly as we still rely on many of our old practices. Research suggest that recruiters spend on average 7.6 seconds reviewing CVs to assess suitability for a role, and it is reported that on average over 50% of managers and recruiters make the decision within 5 -15 minutes into the interview which indicates the decisions are driven by ‘gut instinct’, not by assessing the candidate’s true suitability for the role. We have to remember how our brains work and making quick decision about people is driven by unconscious bias. We are naturally more drawn to people that are like ourselves or if we can see ourselves in them and consequently, we may these candidates over others. As our brain will tell us they must be right, they will fit with the culture, so the decision feels like the right one. 

Therefore, knowing this it is critical that we are aware and seek out the tools to support the processes that help us to deal with this kind of bias.

I believe that AI is an incredibility affective tool to remove or limit bias. It can review every word of the CV pulling out the skills and experiences that are important for the job role they are applying for in seconds, it will not look at the name to see if they are from the same area or country, it will not look at the place they live to see if it’s a nice area or where they were educated to see if this is the same school, college or university. It is looking for what should be the only factors we should consider, does the applicant have the skills/ qualification required to do the job? And does the applicant have the experience (if this is a factor)?

By using AI, the time taken to shortlist reduces significantly, particularly for roles that you get high number of applications. It also has the capability to screen using tests or questions, and again will assess the suitability of the application based purely on their performance of the test or questions. It will not look at how the applicant is dressed, it doesn’t assess how they look, it will only short list the top performing candidates, who then should go forward for the face to face/ virtual interview stage with a selection panel. I do believe this will continue to be an important step, but how the candidates reach this point should be unbiased. It is then the responsibility of the business to have an interview panel that is also diverse to ensure the process continues to be fair and seek to bring in diverse talent.   

The use of AI doesn’t come without its problems in that, it will only be as good as the data that is loaded. you load biased data, it will simply carry out the same biased process as you had before, so it vital this is tested as some companies have had issues where this type of software has discriminated and needed to be removed.

But it is clear that AI is here to stay and it will continue to become a bigger and bigger part of our life, there is lots of great software in the market that will help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face. We need to embrace this technology as I do believe it’s much more effective than delivering unconscious bias training, as how do we even measure the effectiveness of this? as at the end of the day, we cannot control our unconscious mind.