The Scoop: Recruitment Trends & Industry Insights | March 2020

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Here is your March guide to the latest in recruitment trends, technology, and industry insights! In honor of Women’s History Month, and in recognition of the industrywide focus on gender equality, this edition will focus on bias and technology and what to expect as new trends continue to emerge. 

WORKPLACE GENDER REPRESENTATION IN TECH IS STILL SLUGGISH

As companies aim for greater insight into potential issues with technology, inclusive representation is often one of the items of discussion. Women currently occupy only 26% of the tech workforce in the United States and, despite their effort and resources, the big five tech companies still struggle to attract and retain women. 


https://www.statista.com/chart/4467/female-employees-at-tech-companies/

The implication of the lack of gender representation in tech is further exacerbated when intersectionality is considered.

While using facial analysis software, computer scientist and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, Joy Buolamwini, found that it couldn’t detect her dark-skinned face until she put on a white mask. This realization led her to research the prevalence of gender and racial bias in tools developed by some of the large tech companies — IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon, etc. — and, if left unchecked, the ways in which technology can create a new system of exclusion.

https://time.com/5520558/artificial-intelligence-racial-gender-bias/

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WHAT’S IN AN NAME IMAGE? TECH USING COMPUTER VISION MAY BEGIN TO SEE SLOWED PROGRESS

Technological advancements continue to come up against the sociocultural drive toward fairness and representation. Google recently announced that its cloud vision tool – which uses AI to analyze images and identify faces, landmarks, etc. – will no longer classify images by gender and instead simply apply the label “person.”  

“Given that a person’s gender cannot be inferred by appearance, we have decided to remove these labels in order to align with the Artificial Intelligence Principles at Google, specifically Principle #2: Avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias.”

https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/20/21145356/google-ai-images-gender-bias-labels-people

Google isn’t the only tech giant developing tools for image analysis; it remains to be seen if Microsoft will follow suit and change the labeling available with its Azure computer vision tool.

The impact of continued conversations about biases that arise with the use of these tools in areas that could potentially lead to greater disenfranchisement – housing, work, etc. – comes at a time when companies are investing heavily in AI technology. Research out of Carnegie Mellon, “Mapping the Movement of AI into the Marketplace with Patent Data,” shows the greatest growth in tech innovations leveraging “Image Analysis.” 

https://www.cmu.edu/block-center/images/center-images/AI-patent-project-media-summary.pdf

Taken in aggregate, this discussion may slow the adoption of tools with computer vision technology at its core. And with the continued conversation about algorithmic accountability and other AI legislation, employers considering adopting new tools will need to balance the benefits and the risks as they seek greater effectiveness in applicant selection. 

WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN CEOS: IS THE GLASS CEILING REALLY A GLASS BOX?

Data on the career progression of women in the top 500 companies in the United States show that some women are moving to the executive level, but there is a significant drop-off on the road to CEO.

https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-sp-500-companies/

A majority of women in executive roles often start their careers in supporting business functions, such as marketing and HR; they move up into the executive levels within those functions but stop short of the CEO level. Conversely, the roles that do track to CEO, often involving P&L responsibilities, are still dominated by men.

As companies look to develop their female workforce, and a concerted effort is put into reskilling workers in light of the new labor market realities, a diversity of experiences – especially those that impact the bottom-line of the business – ensures that there is a pipeline to executive roles that could lead to consideration for a CEO position.

https://www.wsj.com/podcasts/your-money-matters/why-there-are-so-few-women-ceos/E57C34DF-63FC-4184-A4A6-52572BCDF2E5

ROUNDING OUT THE SCOOP: PSYCH, SOCIAL, LABOR, AND TECH

Jahkedda Akbar Mitchell

About Jahkedda Akbar Mitchell

Jahkedda has many years of experience providing strategic guidance, data, and insights on job-seeker trends in support of TMP Worldwide and its clients. She has also worked in-house on the candidate attraction team for a large fortune 500 company. Jahkedda has a passion for psychology and storytelling; understanding why we do what we do and how to change behaviors...only using her powers for good. Jahkedda is a member of TMP Labs: a design thinking focused innovation lab.

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