AI And The Quest For Inclusive Talent

By Oliver Christie, Artificial Intelligence Strategist

The latest edition of ‘Realizing 2030’ forecast reports from Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future (IFTF) is out. It makes for fascinating reading on some of the trends coming next for how we prepare for, find, and work by 2030. For anyone in management, my recommendation is to read the report slowly, take some time to absorb the finding, then apply where possible. Business changes over the next decade will be massive, not because of technology, but due to what it enables. While 2030 is ten years away, some of the changes are happening now.

Rather than summarize the report, I thought it would be more useful to explore ‘Inclusive Talent,’ one of the forecast shifts mentioned. To describe the impact on business and how to think about AI in context. ‘Inclusive Talent’ is highlighted as the first of three majors shifts, the others being ‘Empowered Workers’ and ‘AI Fluency.’ They make for a powerful trio if thoughtfully combined.

Find talent based on capabilities, not demographics

The report described ‘A DAY IN THE LIFE—2030’ scenario of a new employee in London, UK. She has been recently hired with the aid of an AI system to be a ‘perfect fit’ for the company. She has been offered a job based on a broad understanding of her skills, experience, and demeanor. In short, she has been chosen based on all the things she can bring to the job rather than any narrow definition based on age, gender, or race.

This is a significant step forward for society, using AI to eliminate systemic bias due to age, gender, or race. The difficulties are twofold in using this approach.

Navigating around unconscious biases

The first is centered around current (and historic) hiring data. Using current data reflects the corporate and broader societal environment in which it was gathered. Abject racism, sexism, and ageism are hard-baked into data. AI taught this way becomes a mirror on society, reflecting both the good and the bad. Thankfully every company working in this space understands the reality of the real-world and makes adjustments to produce a neural read of data. The size of this problem becomes apparent once you dig into the current technology available and how it was built. Large technology must do better in this respect.

Promoting a new way of thinking

The second is in some ways harder, that of convincing those in positions of power that a new approach should be taken, that a diverse workforce is truly valuable. Inertia here is the biggest obstacle to change. While a description of diversity for social good is only ever going to resonate to specific sectors even when numerous studies clearly demonstrate that diverse teams perform better. Tokenism is not going to be the answer here.

As the report states, “This opportunity is not a foregone conclusion, however. Technological advancement is one undeniable force that will shape the future of work.”

If inclusivity results in financial return, should shareholders speak up?

I would argue that all business decisions are made in self-interest and that any publicly listed company ultimately answers to its shareholders. It is these shareholders who should be demanding change, not necessarily for social good but for higher financial returns. While recent studies have shown, diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones; the more significant value will be realized soon. As both products and services become customized to the end-user, the idea of ‘one size fits all’ is over. Instead, the consumer looks towards companies that understand them and their needs. This is the real value of ‘Inclusive Talent’ where a diverse employee base can genuinely have an impact thanks to their unique insights or experiences. The smart company will adapt to these new views, ideas, or insights.

The future leader will embrace AI even as it challenges how they function. They will welcome an inclusive workforce and the opportunities this presents for growth. The future of work truly starts now.

Read the full report here.

This post was sponsored by Dell Technologies, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell Technologies’ positions or strategies.