a woman empowered in a meeting room

Will AI empower women & how?

We are all striving to become more inclusive because regardless of a person’s gender, ethnicity or background everyone has talent and potential. With more women working than ever before, gender equality is at the forefront of most HR professional’s minds. However, there is a lack of females in leadership positions, for instance, only 25 females are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.

This imbalance can be observed across the workforce, with men and women respectfully dominating certain industries. For example, currently 80% of US software developers are men and 85% of social workers are women. But why is this the case? The effect of life domains on girls’ possible selves study suggests that culture, socialisation and gender role stereotyping discourages females from traditionally masculine subjects such as physics and mathematics. This may influence career choices later on, which further reinforces job role stereotypes. Therefore, these stereotypes based on gender can impact society heavily but the ever-growing change for equality will help open industries to all.

Will this ever change? 

We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, and as a result, new technology such as AI and automation will transform industries and workforces. Employees will dedicate less time to routine tasks like data handling, focusing more on adding value to the company. More jobs will require a personal touch using interpersonal skills, creativity and problem-solving abilities which will favour humans over AI and other technologies. According to a study by PWC, women could initially be impacted by the development and implementation of AI and automation. However, in the long term, it is suggested that more males could be affected. This should inspire women to retrain or change career in order to stay ahead of the curve which may mean applying for roles they haven’t considered before.

Currently, there is a lack of females in STEM related fields.  Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, comments that: “You can only hire in a balanced way for diversity if the talent is there and they have been educated in that field.” As this industry grows, there will be even more roles available in STEM industries. Initiatives have been created to encourage women to take STEM subjects. If this is successful, more females will be hired in typical male dominated roles. This will also mean a more diverse applicant pool. But how can HR managers ensure they are hiring the best candidates for a role, regardless of whether a position is traditionally held by a male or female?  

How can HR support this change? 

More and more businesses are introducing AI into their recruitment process. There are many benefits to adopting this technology, it saves you time, money and people power whilst allowing you to find candidates who fit into your company’s culture and team as well as the role you’re recruiting for. AI technologies can enable you to create a fairer and more diverse recruitment process. As humans are naturally prone to bias, it can sometimes influence decisions the workplace. It is common within the recruitment process as you are judging candidates on a range of skills and attributes to match the job role. However, factors such as gender and culture should not affect applying for a job (read our blog to find out more). AI removes the bias created by humans as it has the capacity to be completely objective.

“If AI doesn’t empower women, then we are doing it wrong”

Dr Boris Altemeyer

It is possible to create a recruitment process that is fair for all. But how do you define ‘fair’? Even if you programme AI software to identify the best candidates with a 50:50 gender split, it may still not be entirely fair. For instance, an applicant pool could have a larger amount of stronger female candidates. Therefore, not only would these qualified applicants miss out on this job opportunity, but the organisation wouldn’t necessarily be hiring the best candidates for the role. Dr Boris Altemeyer also reveals that “The AI needs to learn what is fair and balanced. We need to agree what we tell the AI to do in order to get the best possible outcome.” 

At Cognisess, we remove biases by making it optional for candidates to disclose age, gender, race or even the schools they attended. More significantly, this personal information is never considered in Cognisess’ set of assessments. Our system is mostly interested in assessing how your brain works. From this, recruiters can focus purely on what matters when hiring an applicant. This is called blind recruitment and it provides decision makers with an in-depth understanding of a candidate’s suitability for the role regardless of background, age, gender or ethnicity. This creates an environment for recruiters to make objective and well-informed decisions about a candidate’s potential.

Creating equal opportunities for all with AI

At Cognisess, we are constantly pursuing a fair recruitment process for all. We recently investigated if gender bias was present in one of our client’s hiring processes. Although more male applicants applied for their graduate scheme, more female candidates were successful. When candidates were asked to complete a variety of cognitive, emotional, personality Cognisess assessments, there was no bias present. The number of passed and rejected candidates reflected the difference in applicant volume of each gender. The final stage of the graduate process was a video interview. The gender was revealed in this section of the process due to the video aspect. However, in this part of the process female applicants were more likely to pass this stage than males. This could be an indication of higher presentation skills in female candidates, but it could also reflect a subtle bias in the human assessors marking the video interviews. 

This shows the effect humans could have on a recruitment process. It is important to note that bias can happen towards any group of people, including males. This is why it is important HR teams constantly refines this in order to truly hire the best applicants.  

Initially, women will be the most affected by the fourth industrial revolution. But this could be an opportunity for them to step outside stereotypical female roles and realise their potential. With a more diverse applicant pool organisations will need to ensure they have a recruitment process in place that is fair for all. If you would like to discuss how AI and People Analytics can enhance your recruitment process, book a free demo with our expert team. 

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The Coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer of Cognisess, the Predictive Analytics for People company, anticipates what may lie in store for the AI industry as the powers gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum to discuss:

The Coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Across this weekend, the world’s press, governments, industrialists, commentators, the good and the (not so) great start gathering in Davos-Klosters in Switzerland ahead of the World Economic Forum. Some might argue that the combined brain and influencing power of this gathering represents the most powerful human super-computer the planet has to offer. A combination of industrialists with billions of dollars at their fingertips for funding innovation; governments who can investment development of major long term global infrastructure; and the media who are able to reach out and engage every corner of society with new ideas and solutions to better our world for all. It is a fair question to ask that if these people can’t transform the fabric of society – then who can?

The impacts and implications of the impending Fourth Industrial Revolution will continue to dominate the agenda. In an agenda-setting pre-amble last week titled: The Urgency of Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, outlined his concerns about the impacts of allowing a free market development of emerging technologies such as AI and Robotics. The main area of his concern is that the digital revolution that emerged in the middle of the last century is now happening at an exponential pace rather than a linear one and blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. This unprecedented economic whirlwind might start to become as unpredictable as much of the climate change that we have been experiencing recently and that there is “clear evidence that the technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution are having a major impact on businesses”.

The crux of his argument is founded on the assertion that in the future talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production with a workforce polarising into either “low-skill/low-pay” jobs or “high-skill/high-pay” jobs with a hollowing out of the middle. The WEF Report of 2016 Jobs of the Future paved the way for this theory by identifying a number of new super-brain human attributes which will come to define the employment and skills landscape of the future. These included:

  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Complex problem-solving

The Report identified these as the new human capabilities we need to develop to ensure that machines, AI and robotics would not leave the entire human race totally redundant.

The trouble with this cause and effect, is that it underestimates greatly how transformation really works. The reality is that ‘the future’ being described in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here – now.

Firstly, all the signs are that the huge skills deficits are already present within every major industrial sector. An aging and bulging population is rapidly retiring en masse with all the money and knowledge and being followed up by an emerging new workforce who are fewer in numbers and have been badly prepared skills-wise by the education system to slot into the highly sophisticated tasks and environments that are being demanded by the digital disruption sweeping through economies and business models like a Hurricane Ernie. Working right across many business sectors as we do, we have already been addressing these deficits over the past 3-4 years.

Like all good Science Fiction and Futurology, it can leave us feeling we ought to be worrying more about this impending future but yet helpless to do anything to affect it… however, somewhere, those powerbrokers and influencers close to the levers of power will be. Therefore, perhaps we feel its better we concentrate on what we are doing in the here and now – and wait until we are briefed more about the future in due course.

Secondly, the kind of skills described in The Future of Jobs report are not anything super-human that need inventing in a lab or by creating a cybernetic hybrid of machine/human. These faculties are all actually in abundance and thriving in our citizens. The fact that (up to now) we have not been able to assess, identify or calibrate the value of this potential amongst our citizens is no longer an excuse. All the tools and technologies we need to manage this evolution are here, they are in market, they are proven and they are already working hard for those employers who have been sharp enough to take advantage and get ahead in accessing the workplace skills of the future. We have found increasing need amongst our clients – within exactly the kinds of sectors that WEF have identified as under threat – who are raising their game and the game of their workforce to enhance their talent and capabilities to meet the demands of customers and competition.

And thirdly, AI is not going to behave like some kind of semi-sentient intelligence that is hell-bent on erasing any human participation or presence. Even now, our experience as an early innovator in People Analytics and AI has shown us that the real benefit we see from AI is the ability for humans to learn from AI AND for AI to learn from humans. This reciprocal exchange of insight and learning is already creating a brand new form of intelligence which is neither exclusively human, nor machine.  We are already seeing how this intelligent two-way interface is helping us humans to make better decisions. Ones which are not coloured by subjectivity and bias or driven by pressure and self-interest. It doesn’t mean that humans won’t continue to make mistakes and that machines won’t either. One has to just observe the very recent introduction of the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) into the sport of football to appreciate that!

But in real terms, how can this innovation make a difference here and now. Can Science Fiction really become science-fact?

In the past year we have started to help our clients:

  • Identify and correct unconscious bias
  • Identify new skills and talents they didn’t know their workforce had
  • Define what good performance looks like and where to find it
  • Make accurate decisions about whether candidates are actual a match for their culture
  • Create greater diversity of thinking styles, backgrounds and talents to form higher performing teams
  • Match and predict how Apprentices’ talent can positively affect their organisations

The truth is that from this point forward, humans will simply not be able to usefully cope with processing the scale of demand, the volumes of data  and the speed of change that is already required in today’s labour market WITHOUT some AI and Machine Intelligence. Humans need to stay on top of the game whilst AI is better placed to observe and inform the game.

So in response to the question posed at the beginning of the article which asked who is best positioned to help transform our society? It has to be people. Us. Not machines. We’re the ones who already have the tools and levers freely available to us to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The future is already here. It’s just a matter of where and when we choose to apply it.