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Beyond the Hype: The Essential Need for Fair and Compliant AI Hiring

September 12, 2023
3 min read

Every generation has its disruptive technology moment. For Generation X, it’s the time they first used a personal computer. Generation Y will remember logging onto the “World Wide Web” for the first time and carefully counting their AOL hours. Generation Z will remember their first smartphone and connecting to friends via social media for the first time.

We are standing in front of another revolutionary period in technology. By now, you’ve certainly heard about generative AI and how it will change how we live and work. You may even have tried it.

ChatGPT, and products built from its open-source technology, have tremendous applications for our world. Josh Bersin compares AI to a new tech platform that’s as revolutionary as the introduction of cloud or mobile capabilities. He notes on his blog:

Over time, this new technology will help us reinvent what HR technology does. And this new era of HR tech will be more useful, more important, and more ‘integrated’ than ever before.

We recently conducted a survey among 2023 college grads in the USA to understand their use and plans for leveraging AI to help them get a job. Nearly half (47%) stated they were interested in using ChatGPT or other bots to write their resume or cover letter and 25% have already used it. In Europe, we are seeing a similar trend. In the U.K. more than 33% of college graduates have already used an AI bot to help them in the job application process. In France, it’s 15%.

Even though each technological advance aims to make life easier, you don’t need to catch up on Black Mirror to see the potential drawbacks. Disinformation, social media bullying and screen fatigue are just a few examples of the negative impact of the latest technology. As HR tech vendors rush to bring their generative AI products to market, we risk creating tools that may save time yet amplify the problems we’ve been trying to fix for decades — bias, discrimination and risk.

To protect against AI discrimination, state legislators are already working on new laws and regulations. On July 5, enforcement went into effect for New York City’s Automated Employment Decision Tool (AEDT) legislation (NYC Local Law 144/2021). This means that if your company hires anyone who lives in NYC using AI, you must ensure your hiring system has been subject to a bias audit. The fine for non-compliance is up to $1,500 per day per tool that is not audited. 

At iCIMS, we have been focused on AI throughout our history and ensuring its benefits are threaded throughout the iCIMS Talent Cloud experience. Additionally, we’ve been diligently working behind the scenes to ensure our foundation is grounded in ethical principles of transparency, accountability, fairness, privacy, and continuous improvement. We engaged BABL AI, Inc. to perform an independent bias audit of the iCIMS “Candidate Ranking” algorithm per the requirements outlined in the new NYC local law. The algorithm is a feature in the iCIMS Talent Cloud Applicant Tracking System that assists recruiters with hiring decisions by providing a ranked list of applicants against a position’s requirements. The audit found that the algorithm did not have an adverse impact against any self-declared demographic group.

It’s ok to get excited about how this new technology can streamline (and even eliminate) some of the more frustrating tasks in recruiting. Still, as talent acquisition leaders, we must ensure that hiring systems are designed to be unbiased and compliant. Our approach is to have the AI tools help people to get to a higher/better starting point, compete with better context and allow you to do better work. As we step into this new age of AI, our customers have the peace of mind knowing that iCIMS will be there to help navigate this uncharted territory.

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About the author

Al Smith

As Chief Technology Officer, Al Smith leads the creative and technology teams behind iCIMS’ product portfolio, providing its 2.4 million global platform users with the world’s leading talent cloud. Smith is leading the company as it develops innovative solutions that empower employers at every stage of the talent continuum, allowing leaders to attract, engage, hire, and advance the world’s best talent.  

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