Is Artificial Intelligence Widening the Diversity Gap in Hiring Practices? [Part 2]

Published: Jul 01, 2019

 Workplace Issues       

We continue our chat with Vladimir Sidorenko, founder and CEO of international personnel management company Performia CIS, to find out how companies—and HR teams, specifically—can overcome the biases inherent in AI technologies that drive recruitment efforts. What are the underlying causes of these biases, and how can companies benefit from a more diverse workforce?

Don't forget to check out the first part of our interview for insights into how AI contributes to biases in hiring processes.

Vault: You’ve suggested that the diversity gap is due, in part, to racial and gender biases prevalent in recruiting algorithms and other AI technology. What can companies do to bridge the diversity gap and mitigate the impact of AI biases before things get worse?

Sidorenko: You need an engaged and diverse workforce to solve complex business problems within a company. This is the best way to combat the technological problems of the future. It will require the best of workers from all backgrounds to do so. Algorithms are created by computer scientists, not by personnel employees, but personnel (HR) can still identify a problem when they see the results of data that is pulled on specific candidates who have different backgrounds.

Companies need to assert their energy into creating a culture based on diversity. A diverse team with broader perspectives in areas of philosophy, problem-solving, ethics, and education are equipped to tackle complex solutions such as the design and the development of AI, leading to unique ways in shifting the technology’s perception away from gender and racial biases.

My four primary tips for HR teams looking to bridge the diversity gap include:

  • Cultivating trust in AI through hiring a diverse workforce to define challenges in order to shift the perception of tech’s racial and gender biases. In turn, these developments will generate profit for the company.
  • Building a culture around skill-building, so all employees can cohesively feel like a part of a company’s expansion.
  • Implementing diversity training initiatives in the workplace to foster cooperation.
  • Reaching out to community organizations who are great resources for locating and hiring diverse candidates, such as women in STEM.

Vault: You mention that a diverse workforce can help generate profit for a company. What is the financial impact of not prioritizing workplace diversity?

Sidorenko: If companies do not put emphasis on diversity and inclusion efforts, it could cost a collective $400 billion in revenue each year. That is an astronomical number. A diverse workforce that prioritizes a focus on solving creative problems while interacting with different team members to reach one common purpose will dramatically raise the profit of the company and the engagement of their employees. It will require a total investment in potential by HR teams to foster engagement on a human level, not to mention an improvement in AI technology to help select qualified candidates.

Vault: How large of a gap does the U.S. tech industry need to fill on diversity in order to generate increased revenue and output from their workforce? 

Sidorenko: A lot of progress needs to be made, especially within the AI sector, where a little over one-fifth of women are being represented in that sector. It’s going to be an uphill climb with 83 percent of tech executives being white. For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on a senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise .08 percent. The more the diversity gap decreases, the more earnings a tech company will make.”

Vault: Is there anything you’d like to add about the current AI landscape, the current trajectory of its use in HR, or how that outlook can be improved?

Sidorenko: Companies with a high level of employee engagement demonstrated a 19.2 percent increase in operating income, while companies with low employee engagement showed a decline of 32.7 percent. “

I have developed the “Profit Formula” for any given employee: “Profit from an employee is equal to his potential times his engagement. If someone’s engagement is low then it means the company is losing money. It's not enough just to fire him - you need to look at his potential, at what he can do. All personnel actions must be taken based on these two factors.”


Vladimir SidorenkoVladimir Sidorenko is the Founder and CEO of Performia CIS, an international personnel management consulting company. Created in 2001, they specialize in effective solutions to personnel problems and technology for hiring productive employees and contributing to higher profits for companies. Performia International is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and Performia CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) is located in Moscow, Russia.


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