In the ever-evolving landscape of corporate dynamics, Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) find themselves at the center of a critical discussion. The surge in demand for CDOs to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) within organizations has reached new heights in the past two years. Yet, recent developments, including high-profile exits and layoffs, have cast a shadow over the effectiveness of a singular role in steering DE&I initiatives. As companies chart their budgets for the upcoming year, an intriguing overlap emerges— the convergence of investments in generative artificial intelligence (AI) and meeting DEI goals. This intersection sparks a reevaluation of the CDO’s role and prompts questions about their involvement in crucial AI decisions.
AI decisions and marginalized groups
Amidst the anticipation of the upcoming year, a crucial question emerges: Can CDOs play a pivotal role in ensuring the fairness and unbiased nature of AI decisions? The impact of AI on historically marginalized groups is explored, emphasizing the potential pitfalls and challenges that organizations face in deploying AI within their processes.
Most companies currently incorporate some form of AI in their hiring processes. But, the risk of bias remains, potentially leading to the oversight of certain candidate pools—an area of concern for any CDO striving for inclusivity. The importance of selecting the right AI technology and conducting necessary audits falls under the purview of the CDO, especially as legislative measures, such as NYC’s Local Law 144, mandate bias audits before employing automated employment decision tools.
Research from Charter sheds light on the disparities in AI’s effects on different demographic groups. Concerns among Black respondents regarding job displacement by AI, differences in AI tool usage between genders, and age-related disparities indicate a need for careful consideration. The question arises: who better to address these concerns than a Chief Diversity Officer?
AI’s role in economic inequality
Charter’s research highlights the positive impact AI can have on lowering barriers to entry for certain professions. Jyl Feliciano, VP of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Highspot, shares insights into her experience involving AI decisions at Highspot and as a board advisor for Included.
Feliciano advocates for CDOs to not only consider but actively focus on AI, emphasizing its potential to identify workforce trends, analyze employee histories, and enhance inclusivity through tools like Included. Donald Knight, Chief People Officer at Greenhouse, raises the question of untapped AI tools that can further DE&I goals, positioning DE&I as an integral part of the AI innovation process.
Data collection and the role of CDOs
Cliff Jurkiewicz, VP of Strategy at Phenom, emphasizes the need for CDOs to leverage AI audits, framing it as an opportunity for inclusivity-focused individuals to shape the selection and assessment of AI tools. The involvement of CDOs in the entire AI decision-making process, from selection to assessment, can establish standards and showcase the importance of their work across various organizational aspects.
Feliciano provides practical tips for CDOs looking to participate in AI decisions, stressing the importance of understanding the algorithms, ethical guidelines, and the composition of the AI development team. The concluding message echoes the moral imperative of including diverse perspectives in committees, councils, and vendor selections, emphasizing the need for meaningful questions about staff development with new technologies.
As companies stand at the crossroads of AI investments and DEI goals, the role of Chief Diversity Officers takes center stage. The question lingers: Can CDOs effectively navigate the complexities of AI decisions and ensure a fair and inclusive technological landscape? The dynamic intersection of diversity, equity, inclusion, and artificial intelligence invites a reevaluation of organizational structures and demands a thoughtful approach to address the challenges and opportunities on the horizon. How will companies strike a balance, and who will guide them through this intricate dance between diversity and the digital future?