Top Companies Back the Data & Trust Alliance Group in Addressing A.I. Bias in Hiring Practices

Kenneth Chennault, co-chairman of the the Data & Trust Alliance group. Image: Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Some of the largest corporations in the country are joining forces to combat artificial intelligence bias in hiring practices, the New York Times reports.

The Data & Trust Alliance announced on Wednesday that it has the endorsement of major corporations across a variety of industries such as CVS Health, Deloitte, General Motors, Humana, IBM, Mastercard, Meta (Facebook’s parent company), Nike, and Walmart.

Instead of lobbying an organization or a think tank, the group has developed a 55-question evaluation and a scoring system that covers 13 topics specifically designed for artificial intelligence software.

“This is not just adopting principles, but actually implementing something concrete,” said Kenneth Chenault, co-chairman of the group and a former chief executive of American Express

According to the research, A.I. programs can inadvertently produce biased results.

Simply put, if the data used to develop an algorithm is based on information solely about white men, most likely, the results will be biased against people of color, women, or the LGBTQ+ community. Or, if the data used to predict success at a company is based on past results alone, the data produced will be an algorithmically reinforced determination of previous bias. What may seem like sets of neutral data, when combined with others, can produce results that discriminate by gender, race, or age. 

The Data & Trust Alliance is venturing to expose the potential danger of powerful algorithms being used to make decisions in the workforce early on as opposed to reacting after the damage is done.

“We’ve got to move past the era of ‘move fast and break things and figure it out later,’” Chenault said.

Nuala O’Connor, senior vice president for digital citizenship at Walmart additionally argues that algorithms can offer limited perspectives and fail to convey the entire picture.

“Every algorithm has human values embedded in it, and this gives us another lens to look at that,” O’Connor said. “This is practical and operational.”

Ashley Casovan, executive director of the Responsible AI Institute, a nonprofit organization developing a certification system for A.I. products, said the focused approach and commitments of major companies are signs of encouragement. “But having the companies do it on their own is problematic,” Casovan said. “We think this ultimately needs to be done by an independent authority.”

Over the past year, the evaluation program has been improved and the goal is to not only partner with prominent human resource software creators but newer companies in the rapidly-growing field of “work tech.”

“The promise of this new era of data and A.I. is going to be lost if we don’t do this responsibly,” added Chenault.

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