Could AI discriminate against you in the hiring process?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Many companies have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to help them eliminate intentional or subconscious discrimination from their hiring processes. It turns out AI can be just as biased as humans.

AI is not racist or sexist in the way some people are. It doesn’t actively dislike or mistreat someone because of who they are. It’s just that certain groups of people are more liable to do some of the things (or not do some of the things) that it notices and bases its decisions on. Here are a few examples of what can happen:

Bias against women 

An AI system that is sorting through job applications may automatically filter out anyone with an unexplained career gap. Yet, a woman is more likely to have an unexplained gap in her curriculum than a man because there is no space on a CV to write, “2017 – 2022: Full-time mother.” As men can’t become pregnant it’s a case of the machine exhibiting a bias against women.

Bias against people born elsewhere

You ranked top of your class when you did your Masters. Unfortunately, because you studied overseas the AI algorithm does not rank you as highly as someone who graduated near the bottom of a U.S. graduate school it recognizes and rates. So, even though you may have had a better education and be better suited to the job than many of the applicants the system takes forward, you never make it past the application stage.

Another way you might face discrimination due to your origins is if the AI system does not understand everything you say because you have an accent, or you use words or phrases that differ from what most U.S.-born applicants it has come across use.

The problem is that no one is 100% sure what AI bases its decisions on

Some of it depends on the prompts and data fed into it, and, if that contains inherent biases (which it probably does as individuals have inherent biases and bias has clearly been an issue in many companies’ recruitment up till now) it could perpetuate those same biases. 

If you feel an employer has discriminated against you in the hiring process, you can find out more about your legal options. Employers have a duty to hire fairly and using AI does not relieve them of that responsibility.

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