LinkedIn is using AI to make recruiting diverse candidates a no-brainer
LinkedIn is betting that AI can help companies overcome the human biases that hinder diversity.
The professional social network is rolling out new features on Wednesday to help companies notice and hire diverse job candidates so that they don’t miss out on potential talent. The new artificial intelligence features will be incorporated into LinkedIn’s Talent Insight product, aimed at recruiters, and will focus on gender diversity.
The announcement by LinkedIn comes shortly after news emerged that Amazon had to shut down a special AI hiring tool, specifically because the technology discriminated against women, Reuters reported. LinkedIn’s new AI tool, which the company briefed Business Insider on before the news about Amazon emerged, appears designed to filter out the biases in data that can taint AI technology.
LinkedIn will track what happens in the hiring process with regards to gender, showing companies reports and insights about how their job postings and InMail are performing on this. In addition, LinkedIn will re-rank the top search results in LinkedIn Recruiter to be more representative.
“Say I search for an accountant, and there are 100,000 accountants in the city I’m looking at,” said John Jersin, VP of Product Management for LinkedIn Talent Solutions. “If the gender breakdown is 40-60, then what Representative Results will do is that no matter what happens in our AI, the top few pages will have that same 40-60 gender breakdown.”
Currently, progress on diversity in many companies, especially in the tech industry, is slow. But studies have shown that diverse teams see higher profit, have better focus and are more innovative, leading companies to pay more attention to diverse hiring.
Human error in the hiring process can inhibit diversity on teams, and as companies shift towards using artificial intelligence in hiring, algorithmic bias can as well. To address this, LinkedIn is launching new features within its new Talent Insights product. The diversity insights will be available in the U.S. on Wednesday and will roll out globally in the near future.
“You don’t even realize you’re forming an opinion in a certain way”
Unconscious bias can play a role in the hiring process. Recruiters and teams may gravitate to people who are more similar to them, and they may base their decisions on stereotypes about people’s skills. For example, if a team is mostly made up of men, they may be less likely to hire a woman onto their team.
“Unconscious bias occurs in a split second,” Jersin said. “When you look at someone for the first time, you don’t even realize you’re forming an opinion in a certain way. As we’re shifting hiring decisions to be made by artificial intelligence or at least partially made by it, we lay out those decisions in the data and the code.”
With LinkedIn reporting data on gender in the hiring process, companies can see the gender breakdown in each step of the process. They can also have better insight on the talent landscape as a whole, such as how skill sets change over time and finding talent pools. Companies can also compare their own gender breakdown to their peers in the industry and identify how to tap into a more representative pool.
The company said it had no current plans to extend the AI features to focus on other forms of workplace diversity besides gender.
On Monday, LinkedIn announced its intent to acquire Glint, an employee surveying startup, and the company hopes Glint’s insights will also improve how customer attract, develop and retain talent.
“We’re developing a new level of artificial intelligence that’s improving efficiency in our product,” Jersin said. “We’re ensuring that it’s working in a fair representative way. We want to make sure that we’re taking steps to help our customers with diversity.”