The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an initiative to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) and other high-tech tools used in hiring and other employment decisions comply with federal civil rights laws
“Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools have great potential to improve our lives, including in the area of employment,” says EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows.
“At the same time, the EEOC is keenly aware that these tools may mask and perpetuate bias or create new discriminatory barriers to jobs. We must work to ensure that these new technologies do not become a high-tech pathway to discrimination.”
The subject matter is no joke, nor is it a novel concern. Some AI-type programs have been accused of contributing to employment bias, depending on how they were programmed.
The initiative will examine more closely how technology is fundamentally changing the way employment decisions are made, according to the commission. A working group will perform original research and gather other research data.
It aims to guide applicants, employees, employers and technology vendors in ensuring that these technologies are used fairly and are consistent with federal equal employment opportunity laws.
The commission notes that it has been examining the issue of AI, people analytics, and big data in hiring and other employment decisions aided by tech since 2016, when the EEOC held a public meeting on the potential discrimination implications of using big data in the workplace.
In addition, earlier this year EEOC’s “systemic investigators” received extensive training on the use of AI in employment practices, the agency revealed.
“Bias in employment arising from the use of algorithms and AI falls squarely within the commission’s priority to address systemic discrimination,” Burrows asserts.