Monday, July 13, 2015

That is SO last week

Last week, The New York Times’ The Upshot blog covered a topic that has been one of our top concerns for a while: how big data can discriminate.  The post followed a Carnegie Mellon University study that reported, among many examples, that Google’s search algorithm displays more prestigious job listings to men than to women.
Big data and data analytics provide employers with useful and apparently unbiased tools for a variety of uses – finding the right person for a job, determining if an employee is about to resign, or determining if trade secrets are walking out the door.  The algorithms used, however, learn from human behavior and reflect how people make decisions.  With unconscious bias at play, these decisions can be discriminatory.  A discrimination law professor at the University of California, Berkeley described the issue this way: “Even if they are not designed with the intent of discriminating against those groups, if they reproduce social preferences even in a completely rational way, they also reproduce those forms of discrimination.”  Employers using algorithms to make personnel decisions should be cautious and should note that the EEOC is paying attention.
Wage and Hour
Posted by Kate Bischoff