Adopting AI to combat unconscious bias

Technology can gather data to generate holistic scores for applicants
By Jahanzaib Ansari
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/31/2018

Hiring a diverse workforce isn’t just about morals and ethics — it actually makes good business sense.

Businesses run by diverse teams are 35 per cent more likely to introduce innovative products to the market, according to a 2013 study conducted by the London School of Economics looking at 7,615 organizations. This is why tech giants — such as Google in 2015, when it announced it was planning to spend US$150 million — are investing in programs to foster and build on diversity.

Regardless of such efforts, there is still a lack of racial and gender diversity at many companies.

Unconscious bias

So, why are diversity numbers still far from the target?

Company initiatives are limited by unconscious bias prevalent in recruitment, a factor that can be significantly reduced using artificial intelligence (AI).

Unconscious bias often creates a homogenous workforce that doesn’t come with fresh perspectives critical of the status quo. In a world where change is the new norm, taking advantage of a diverse workforce can facilitate innovation — an integral component to a business’s longevity.

While diversity and inclusion mindfulness initiatives are important, AI has made inroads with talent acquisition technology built to be completely blind to race, gender and accent so no candidate is assessed unjustly due to any conscious or unconscious bias.

Newer technology

While still in the early stages, artificially intelligent video assessment technology can help onboard more diverse employees and accurately identify quality applicants, which reduces the cost of bad hires. AI’s rigorous assessment eliminates unqualified candidates in the initial screening, allowing more time for qualified candidates.

Essentially, once an applicant does an AI video assessment, the technology gathers the data to generate a holistic score for the person by analyzing her facial expressions and tone, and converting her speech into text. This allows the AI to obtain a holistic score of the applicant, and can be more accurate than human judgment.     

Instead of neglecting candidates because of irrelevant data, the AI can look at all of the incoming applications and rate them against the ideal candidate profile that has the highest correlation of success predictors to a given job role. This allows recruiters to hire talent that has been objectively assessed, and ensures no one is left out.

Reduce cost to fill

AI has also been efficient in reducing the cost to fill a job. As average job postings receive hundreds of resumés, HR personnel have to deal with many unqualified candidates.

With AI candidate assessment technology, HR processes can become more streamlined and eliminate tasks that normally drive up expenses and slow down recruitment. AI allows talent acquisition to better focus on important tasks, instead of handling redundant, mundane work that consumes a lot of time and resources.

This is because in addition to interviewing a high volume of applicants, AI technology can present a shortlist of people who are qualified for a vacant position, based on accurate, objective data.

Finding hidden gems

Diversity initiatives can be costly, and every company wants to find those hidden gems.

AI-infused talent acquisition enables companies to improve innovation alongside the bottom line without expending resources on costly, time-consuming efforts.

With AI, candidate screening can be done more accurately and efficiently, while at the same time diminishing unconscious bias.

This leaves talent acquisition with a far more diverse and qualified candidate pool that’s just waiting to be hired.

Jahanzaib Ansari is co-founder and CEO of Knockri in Toronto. He can be reached at or for more information, visit

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