Hassle: How does Artificial Intelligence reinforce biases in HR? – 04/13/2023

Long before ChatGPT became a craze and made headlines, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was already gaining more and more space in Human Resources (HR) departments of companies around the world.

This is the theme of the fourth episode of the new season of the Laboreira podcast, available in the file above.

Among the various AI tools, stands out the platforms called ATS – an acronym in English for Applicant Tracking System. In a free translation, it would be something like Candidate Tracking System.

Basically, ATS platforms work as a kind of “job marketplace”, connecting companies that offer and people looking for work.

But, in practice, they go far beyond mere intermediation, organizing the entire process of recruiting and selecting candidates..

This means that these automated systems are capable not only of making advertisements, but mainly of analyzing CVs and, above all, ranking the most suitable profiles for the vacancy available.

Produced by Repórter Brasil and distributed by UOL, the program discusses the relationship between the labor market and digital technologies. In its first season, the podcast was elected one of the highlights of the year by Spotify in Brazil.

Ease and efficiency

The main differential of ATS platforms is the ability to compile and interpret large volumes of data, streamlining the process of selecting new employees.

“When I look at the recruitment process, if I’m taking care of 1,500 vacancies without the ATS, he has to keep making filters and different combinations”, explains Ana Navarro, senior manager of the consultancy Accenture Brasil and specialist in the HR area.

“Imagine the work I have for a recruiter to get the best ranking of the top five candidates to send to a manager to interview. So, I have a very large automation for the recruitment area that lets me be more focused on the interviews I do need to do”, adds (listen to the interview from 06:23).

biases and prejudices

The point is that, like all artificial intelligence, ATS platforms are not infallible. Very commonly, they end up replicating rather questionable prejudices and biases.

An international study carried out by Harvard University in partnership with Accenture, entitled “Hidden workers: untapped talent”, brings a very illustrative example of how this happens in practice.

ATS systems evaluated by the researchers automatically excluded from the selection process anyone who had been without work for at least one semester, regardless of the reason for this break.

In other words, no matter how qualified a candidate was for a vacancy, he would not even have his resume analyzed because of this parameter stipulated by the algorithm.

A researcher at DigiLabour, a Unisinos (RS) laboratory that studies the intersections between work and digital technologies, Fabricio Barili raised complaints from candidates who applied for job vacancies through ATS platforms.

“There are two points: first that [os questionários de seleção] are long, exhausting and repetitive. Second: some candidates think that there is no logic — very open questions or questions that have nothing to do with what you are going to work on”, summarizes (listen to the interview from 09:30).

the podcast

The new season of “Trabalheira” has five episodes, always published on Thursdays, in this space.

The program is scripted and presented by this columnist, in partnership with journalist Ana Aranha, from Repórter Brasil.

You can listen to this and other episodes of Trabalhoira on UOL, Youtube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and all podcast platforms.

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