by Bob Schultz, General Manager, IBM Watson Talent Solutions

The talent economy is one of the great outcomes of the digital era — and the ability to attract and develop the right talent has become a competitive advantage in most industries. According to a recent IBM study, which surveyed over 2,100 Chief Human Resource Officers, 33 percent of CHROs believe AI will revolutionize the way they do business over the next few years. In that same study, 65 percent of CEOs expect that people skills will have a strong impact on their businesses over the next several years. At IBM, we see AI as a tremendous untapped opportunity to transform the way companies attract, develop, and build the workforce for the decades ahead.

Consider this: The average hiring manager has hundreds of applicants a day for key positions and spends approximately six seconds on each resume. The ability to make the right decision without analytics and AI’s predictive abilities is limited and has the potential to create unconscious bias in hiring.

That is why today, I am pleased to announce the rollout of IBM Watson Recruitment’s Adverse Impact Analysis capability, which identifies instances of bias related to age, gender, race, education, or previous employer by assessing an organization’s historical hiring data and highlighting potential unconscious biases. This capability empowers HR professionals to take action against potentially biased hiring trends — and in the future, choose the most promising candidate based on the merit of their skills and experience alone. This announcement is part of IBM’s largest ever AI toolset release, tailor made for nine industries and professions where AI will play a transformational role.

We see this development as a tool that will put CHROs and HR leaders on the front lines of shaping tomorrow’s workforce. We see that workforce as highly personalized at the employee level, highly collaborative across the enterprise, and one that draws on a vast and diverse range of expertise and experience without bias.

AI is a catalyst for HR transformation with our clients.

AI is already providing our clients a significant advantage in their industries and has enabled companies like BuzzFeed and H&R Block to refocus recruiters’ time on attracting and hiring the candidates who are most likely to succeed in a given role, in an efficient and inclusive manner.

"H&R Block continuously looks for ways to advance our hiring. Our goal has always been to identify the best qualified candidates. With Watson Recruitment, we hope to do this faster, and at scale,” said Katie Waldo, Talent Acquisition Operations Manager, H&R Block. “We want our recruiters to focus on the most value-add activities and we believe AI can make the recruiting and hiring process incredibly efficient and fair,” continued Ms. Waldo.

Our goal for developing these tools is simple: to ensure organizations select candidates based on ability, not bias

These new tools equip HR professionals with solutions designed to effectively find and prevent unconscious biases that can affect the talent recruitment process and help businesses achieve a stronger, diverse, and more inclusive workforce in the process.

To combat the bias issue, we worked with psychologists to produce an AI scoring system that helps recruiters parse applicants quickly with unbiased accuracy. We are making this capability available as part of Watson Recruitment — providing HR professionals with the tools to take the guesswork out of the applicant selection process. This ensures that those six seconds are spent choosing the most deserving candidates based on their fit for the company — not their age, gender, or race.

Using AI trained with unbiased data, an organization can be secure in the knowledge that the chosen candidate was the one best suited for the role. The result is a stronger workplace that is more diverse, fosters fresh perspectives, and promotes an inclusive atmosphere free of bias.

IBM’s HR transformation has been the ultimate proof of concept for the tools we bring our clients.

Within IBM, we have been re-imagining and transforming human resources for the past five years. From how we attract, engage, retain, develop, grow, and serve our employees, we’re embedding AI and digital technology throughout the entire employee lifecycle. By applying AI, we have gained better productivity, provided stronger decision support for our managers and employees, and delivered more personalized employee experiences. AI has played a critical role in improving the candidate experience for IBM recruits as well. IBM Watson Candidate Assistant is an AI tool that recommends roles to job seekers by matching skills and experiences — sometimes suggesting roles the individual would not have previously considered. While traditional career sites rely on keyword matches, our AI tools infer a candidate’s expertise, which has resulted in candidates submitting applications for IBM jobs at a rate of 3X more often than other career sites. 

We value our role as a leader in driving diversity and inclusion — whether in the corporate world or the broader global community. That’s why we’re constantly working to provide AI-powered tools to address and reduce unconscious bias present in an organization’s data and processes.

For more information on IBM Watson Talent, as well as these and other solutions for your business please visit www.ibm.com/talent-management.

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