How to Achieve Better DE&I in Staffing Using AI

Diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I, has become a boardroom priority, as more leaders realize its impact on employee loyalty, morale, innovation, engagement, and productivity. For staffing agencies, DE&I must also remain at the forefront of decision-making, to ensure all workers are given a fair chance of placement and can work in roles that match their skills and goals.

The pay-off of having an inclusive culture is significant. Organizations with inclusive cultures are, on average, three times higher-performing compared to less inclusive competitors, six times more innovative, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. Their employer brand also gets a boost with 64% of candidates stating that a potential employer’s diversity is an important influence on their decision to work with them.

How to Improve DE&I

The business case for better DE&I is clear. But how can you achieve it?

Inclusivity starts at the core of any business — its people. Building a diverse workforce means everyone is represented and offered the same opportunities, without biases influencing their career journeys. Advances in artificial intelligence are making it easier for organizations to build diverse workforces, offer equal opportunities, and reduce biases (conscious and unconscious) from the decision-making process.

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Here are three ways AI is improving diversity:

  1. Blind hiring based on skills. Blind hiring removes certain characteristics like names and locations from a résumé to help recruiters see them more objectively. Usually, only a candidate’s skills and career potential is displayed. AI can speed this process up by quickly anonymizing profiles and résumés, as well as focusing solely on skills. More advanced AI tools can even match candidates to roles and projects based on their skills data.
  2. Automated résumé screening. Automated résumé screening is replacing manual shortlisting and any biases that may come from human recruiters early-on in the process. These systems can consistently apply the same shortlisting criteria across all candidates. It also takes on the most manual and time-consuming part of a recruiter’s job, giving them more time to focus on value-added tasks like relationship-building.Résumé screening software integrates within an existing applicant tracking system to automate candidate shortlisting without disrupting existing workflows and processes.
  1. Two in the pool. The two in the pool effect is a further way to overcome unconscious biases. Having just one female or minority candidate in a shortlists makes them more likely to be unsuccessful as their differences are more obvious. However, having two or more increases their success rate. AI tools can be programmed to consider this as they make their candidate shortlist selections.

Extra considerations. Your efforts to increase DE&I through AI technology can be undermined if the AI itself is biased. To avoid this, diverse data sets are needed when training the computer to make decisions. As Aleksandra Mojsilovic, research fellow in A.I. at IBM explains, “Any A.I. tool can only be as good—and as impartial—as the data we put in. It’s not about replacing human intelligence, but rather about complementing it.”

Furthermore, AI should only be used to complement a human staffing team’s efforts, not replace them. Human oversight will always be required and it should be obvious how an AI came to a specific recommendation.

Further advances ahead. This is but a snapshot of the benefits that AI can bring to your DE&I activities. As AI advances, expect to see more applications developed across the staffing cycle, to make recruitment, internal mobility, pay, and promotions, a more level playing field.


Jan Kristiansen

Jan Kristiansen
Jan Kristiansen is COO and co-founder of Norwegian and creator of the Staffing Industry Technology Guide.

Jan Kristiansen

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