The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently held a public hearing discussing the pros and cons of using artificial intelligence (AI) in employment decisions. During the hearing, it solicited recommendations from workplace professionals about ensuring that AI does not discriminate against job applicants.

Employers increasingly use automation or AI tools to support HR-related functions and activities. According to a 2022 Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey, almost one in four employers are now using AI in HR in some way, including in recruiting and hiring employees, and 85% of those employers using the technology report that doing so saves time or increases efficiency.

Although AI-driven tools can easily and cheaply recruit and select employees, their use can lead to more discriminatory outcomes than processes performed by humans. For example, one research study showed that the standard AI-driven tool chose 50% fewer Black applicants than humans. Minority applicants are overrepresented in some data that AI tools may view negatively, such as criminal proceedings, evictions, and debt collection actions. Similarly, AI-driven tools can potentially discriminate against people with disabilities and older job candidates.

Various recommendations arose from the EEOC public hearing. For instance, one suggestion was that the EEOC considers a range of AI employment systems and both encourage and enforce AI principles on these systems. EEOC could also develop an oversight system to investigate and audit AI systems to ensure they comply with federal law. The EEOC could implement additional policies to protect underrepresented applicants, such as requiring employers to audit the AI systems they use, document the use of innovative technologies, and inform applicants of the use of AI in their hiring process.

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