With eyes turning more than ever to the statistics of diversity in the workforce, it is vital to remember this issue is more than a number or percentage. These numbers represent people, many of whom have dealt with the history of discrimination throughout their lives. They are also people who can bring creative, new ideas to companies and increase a business’s success. With higher diversity comes diverse ideas and solutions. People with different traits and backgrounds offer so much more than simply fulfilling a company’s diversity quota. 

Companies with more diverse employees throughout their levels of management are more successful than companies with lower amounts of diverse employees. This visual deep dive below cites several key facts and quotes from business executives about how diversity leads to success. In fact, the 20 most diverse companies in the S&P 500 achieve higher long term profitability than less diverse companies. Michele Buck, the CEO of Hershey, voices her insight that, “diversity is particularly impactful in driving innovation and new ways of doing things.” Having a diverse workforce is extremely valuable as different people inspire different ideas. 

To actually create a diverse workforce we must actively work against our implicit bias which has been trained by our history of discrimination. This begins in the hiring process. Currently, 81% of HR professionals believe their hiring methods are average or worse. This does not bode well for the hope of increasing companies’ diversity. Recruiters typically spend seven seconds looking at an applicant’s resume. Seven seconds is not enough time to consider a person’s qualifications and past. It is also definitely not enough time to think through our bias that could potentially influence the hiring decision. 

In an attempt to combat the bias of human recruiters and make the hiring process easier, recruiting software and artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly popular. We have to be cautious though because recruiting AIs have the potential to learn the same biases as the human recruiters. If the AI is programmed with biased data, like narrow information collected from the searches and practices of human recruiters, it learns those biases held by the recruiters. 

Scanning resumes for certain keywords is the practice most influenced by bias. Recruiter’s are unknowingly searching for keywords that reflect their implicit bias. They could be searching for resumes that have their same college written, include a name similar to their own, or list a shared hobby. Similarities stand out to us, which directly conflicts with the effort to increase diversity. This goes back to the problems that exist in recruiting AI because of how the keyword searches are used to program the AI. To make sure the process is as unbiased as possible, the recruiting AI must be trained with a large amount of data from varying sources. It should also consider a person’s interests or hobbies rather than their gender, age, or race.

Seeing how beneficially it is to have a diverse workforce, we must improve our hiring and recruiting process to be as unbiased as possible. Hopefully in the near future, hiring practices will improve, diversity will increase, and business successes will skyrocket. 

Embracing Diversity: The How & The Why With Help From AI