HR Can Deconstruct Bias In The Workplace With Machine Learning


Conscious and unconscious biases influence every hiring decision made, and it’s up to Chief Human Resources Officers (CHRO) to take a strong leadership role to reduce its negative effects.
Women are 10% less successful than men at passing initial filtering for a new job and 35% less successful than men in interviews, according to two findings from’s internal analysis that quantifies the effect of biases in hiring today.
Centuries-old practices of hiring based on conscious and unconscious biases, intuition and resumes that only show a small part of a person’s skills deny companies the potential to achieve greater personalization at scale across every aspect of talent management.
Data is the great equalizer, with proven ability to eradicate conscious and unconscious biases from hiring decisions and enabling true diversity by equally evaluating candidates based on their experience, growth potential and strengths.
These and many other fascinating insights were shared during’s recent panel, Deconstructing Bias At Work. Panel participants included Monika Fahlbusch, Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software and former Senior Vice President, Global Employee Success at Salesforce, Ciara Ennis, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA for Twilio, Russell Williams, former Vice President of Human Resources at PARC, A Xerox Company and Ashutosh Garg, founder. The Honorable Ananth Kumar Hegde, Union Minister of State, India, also addressed in detail his plans for re-skilling India and empowering youth in his nation. The panel provided insights into how CHROs are meeting the many challenges of talent management today and provides valuable lessons learned.

How Machine Learning Is Solving One Of HR’s Greatest Paradoxes

Winning the war for talent must be multidimensional with a strong focus on making every HR process more employee-centric. Monika Fahlbusch, Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software, emphasized this point on the panel, articulating how Salesforce created a unified team with the specific goal of making the company one of the best to work for in the world. “We succeeded by having a diverse team across the company share the common vision with goals each could contribute to,” Fahlbusch said. Using a similar approach, under Monika’s leadership Forbes has honored BMC as one of America’s Best Employers for the last three years. BMC has also been included in India’s Top 50 Best Places to Work as well as India’s Top 15 Technology Companies to Work for the last two years. Starting with recruiting, Monika and her team work to redefine every employee-facing process so that prospects, new hires, and employees have a chance to see how their voices matter and how their contributions make a difference. Attaining personalization at scale is essential to becoming one of the best companies in the world to work for and was one of the most valuable key takeaways from the panel.

Pursuing the goal of being one of the best companies to work for in the world takes exceptional effort in the area of recruiting too, which continues to be one of the most paradoxical areas of talent management. Russell Williams, Vice President of Human Resources at PARC, says the best strategy he has found is to define the ideal attributes of high performers and look to match those profiles with potential candidates. “We’re finding that there are many more attributes that define a successful employee in our most in-demand positions including data scientist that are evident from just reviewing a resume and with AI, I want to do it at scale,” Russell said. Ashutosh Garg, founder, added: “that’s one of the greatest paradoxes that HR departments face, which is the need to know the contextual intelligence of a given candidate far beyond what a resume and existing recruiting systems can provide.” Ashutosh added, “it’s a perfect problem to solve with machine learning and AI, as CHROs can make use of all available data on candidates, free from bias, and make the best possible hiring decision for the company and the applicant.”

Gaining Greater Insights Into Candidate’s Strengths

Russell Williams observed that “the ideal talent management platform would give me the flexibility in defining ideal candidates and search for matches on all aspects of performance.” Monika Fahlbusch mentioned that winning the war for talent needs to start with exceptional data that provides greater insights than competitors have, who are often searching for comparable candidates in similar fields.

Existing talent management systems are designed first for compliance and largely manual and siloed processes, without focusing on candidate and employee personalization at scale, which is exactly what CHROs and their teams need to find the best candidates. Included in this group are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that prioritize resumes based on keyword SEO performance. Designed to scale for millions of resumes that in turn are evaluated by recruiters and hiring managers using the same biases and decision-making process that has led to at best a 30% success rate, current ATS and hiring systems engrain biases into any company over time. And they don’t deliver a competitive hiring advantage based on data as well.’s vision is to provide companies with an integrated platform that combines sophisticated analysis of publicly available data, internal data repositories including Human Capital Resource Management (HCRM) systems, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) with internally defined success criteria to predict every employees’ greatest potential to contribute and what’s most needed for them to thrive. Their Talent Intelligence Platform uses machine learning algorithms and models to continually learn and provide prescriptive guidance on personalizing and scaling talent management. continually learns, creating new contextual intelligence about every aspect of talent management. Ashutosh explained the vision of the company is based on the Buddhist philosophy of “eightfold path” that seeks to empower individuals to choose the path they want to follow. Often individuals need to unlearn and learn, which is the essence of personal development.

A Great Data Set Can Change Any Mindset

Ciara Ennis, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA for Twilio says that she’s succeeding in furthering her career by creating a personal network that includes senior management and C-level executives who believe in her abilities and help her overcome biases she has encountered during the hiring process. “If I were going to start a new software company focused on talent management, I’d focus on capturing a person’s unique and evolving strengths beyond what their resumes reflect,” she said. Ciara mentioned that millennials face a multitude of biases that are easily proven wrong with the wealth of data available online.

Based on discussions with her and other members of the panel, it’s very encouraging to see how a great data set that provides contextual intelligence of an applicant pierces through biases and shows every person’s innate, invaluable skills, expertise, and strengths. Finding the next exceptional employee and nurturing them to excel just became easier using machine learning and AI.

Louis Columbus is an enterprise software strategist with expertise in analytics, cloud computing, CPQ, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).


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