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The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently warned that automated job application screening has the potential to illegally discriminate against disabled workers, in violation of the American with a Disability Act (ADA). The report outlined the potential for discrimination; the reasonable accommodations employers must provide when using computer-based screening tools; and the guarantees needed for the future. The department’s recent press release is part of a bigger pattern from government agencies stepping up to provide guidance and lawsuits over AI-based recruiting tools that were previously unmonitored, resulting in high rejection rates among more disadvantaged workers, including those with disabilities.
How AI Affects “Hidden Employees”
As hybrid or completely remote positions become more and more the norm, there is an opportunity for greater inclusion and increased participation in the workforce of many unemployed and unemployed Americans — whether that’s the woman in a wheelchair for whom the daily commute to an office is a logistical problem. challenge, or the father who has to pick up his children from school at 3:30 p.m. Yet they still face high rates of automated rejections before their resume even lands on someone’s desk.
At a time when companies are dealing with high turnover and a a lot of demand for for talent, it hardly seems like US companies can afford to turn down qualified candidates. Still, many use AI tools to screen applicants. These include everything from simple resume matching and job description programs to more complex programs such as resume scoring systems or video interview tools. While computer programs can often be viewed as less biased, they are only if unbiased such as the data they are trained on and often the teams they have created. A video interview tool that claims to measure a candidate’s enthusiasm or expertise needs to know how to understand that candidate’s accent, voice, or way of speaking. A resume screening tool that isn’t trained on job resumes can unfairly filter out new parents, not because they aren’t qualified for a job, but because it isn’t trained to evaluate people like them.
Companies that use computer screening programs are well aware of their shortcomings. A recent report from Accenture and Harvard Business Review (HBS) found that 88% of employers agree that “qualified high-skill candidates” were filtered out because of these systems. In fact, the report found that, thanks in part to these automated screening systems, the US has an estimated 27 million “hidden workers.” These include Americans with disabilities, caregivers, veterans, immigrants, refugees, retirees hoping to return to work, the long-term unemployed, or those without college degrees. People who fall into these categories are willing, able and aspiring to work but cannot get through the application process to have the opportunity to do so. This paints a very different picture of unemployment in the US, which currently brings the total number of unemployed Americans to about 5.9 million. Apr 2022. docile
How do you ensure compliance with ADA guidelines?
There are simple yet powerful ways for companies to actively curb the negative impact of automated screenings and prevent them from violating ADA guidelines.
- Keep in mind how candidates who are not in the majority are judged and take into account atypical professional travel. These could be “hidden workers” such as women, people with disabilities or people returning from career breaks. Normalizing minor differences in employment history, such as a maternity leave, and making sure technology doesn’t count those differences in candidates can have a big impact on getting so-called invisible candidates through the door.
- Measure every part of the hiring process, including the initial computer screening, application rounds, other assessments and onboarding. By closely monitoring the statistics of each evaluation level, problems can be identified as they arise. Action should be taken if there is any part of the hiring process where several candidates are disproportionately filtered out or dropped out.
- Particularly when it comes to the ADA, accessibility testing is crucial. Organizations should have their website, application process and other tools or assessments used in hiring (such as video interview applications or technical assessments) tested by a third party to ensure people are not turned down even before they have the chance. received to apply. .
- Finally, it must be ensured that hiring diversity, whether that be candidates with disabilities or other employees, is a matter for the entire organization. As noted in the HBS report, many companies work with these populations of hidden employees, but they do so through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, rather than through their HR function. While all diversity efforts are good, it perpetuates the idea that hiring these candidates is an act of charity. In reality, these employees are valuable employees who want and deserve to have the same opportunities that are offered to everyone else.
The new DOJ report is a step in the right direction. While there is much talk about new lawsuits to regulate the use of AI in recruiting, existing equal employment guidelines and legislation like the ADA can now be leveraged to create better rules around AI screening tools. These tools cost companies strong employees, but more importantly, they cause unnecessary damage to millions of Americans who through no fault of their own are missing out on job opportunities.
Rena Nigam is founder and CEO of Meytier.
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