HR Policy Urges Cautious Approach on New Workplace Hiring Technologies

February 07, 2020

In a statement submitted to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, HR Policy Association notes that “new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, have great potential to help companies achieve their diversity and inclusion goals, among other objectives,” but also involve a significant level of risk.

Our statement notes that such technologies “are novel enough to merit careful consideration of their shortcomings to ensure their implementation achieves responsible and effective results, particularly since they are still evolving.  Yet, care must be taken not to enact regulation that inadvertently slows the progress possible through their use—especially in the areas of diversity and inclusion, where the elimination of bias, both conscious and unconscious, calls for new approaches and solutions.”

Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) quoted HR Policy in his opening statement: “In a recent survey, 71% of staffing firms believe artificial intelligence will eliminate human bias from the recruitment process.’”

Subcommittee Chair Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) was far more critical of the use of AI, asserting: “We must compel employers and technology vendors to be transparent and accountable for new workplace technologies.  We must invest in our key defenses against employment discrimination and empower the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address emerging forms of digital discrimination.  And we must identify and close the gaps in our nation’s laws that leave workers vulnerable to misclassification, discrimination, and harassment on the job.”

Witnesses discussed potential bias in AI, privacy issues, the legality of the use of certain hiring technologies, and a workers’ bill of rights, among other issues.

Why it matters:  The Subcommittee was not considering any particular measure, but the themes that will likely come up in future legislative deliberations are beginning to take shape.  HR Policy’s statement is a part of our continuing participation in this conversation as it moves forward.