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Using AI to Break Down the Built-in Biases in Recruitment


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Kunal-Mahajan-Human-Learning & Harish-Goli-Pandora

Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Eightfold Radio. Kunal Mahajan works with UK startup Human Learning and Harish Goli works with Pandora. Together they see how even advanced hiring tools are still affected by the built in systems of bias that make building a diverse workforce a challenge. Let’s listen now as JoAnne McDougald speaks with Kunal and Harish about how Eightfold technology is helping to undo some of this built in bias.

Harish: My name is Harish. I am the product owner for audio ads on Pandora, the company where the music never stops. It’s awesome. Pandora customizes and personalizes music, listening to you. We use data science and machine learning to figure out the right songs for the right mood, and the right moment. That’s why we have over 100 million people listening to us all the time. Thank you. Thank you for being a listener.

Eightfold: I am a listener. Kunal, let’s hear from you.

Kunal: Sure. Well, thank you for this opportunity and Harish great listening to you about Pandora. So I work with Human Learning. I’m responsible for the US business. We are a UK-based startup, and we are really a smart region note platform, which helps enterprises ask the right questions, at the right people, at the right time. And what that does is we allow employees and customers to respond to questions from their smartphones, and allow their responses to very conveniently be uploaded to the enterprise systems be it Salesforce or some other CRM, or service now, or ERP, or other service platforms. And what that allows us to do is that of course we also at Machine Learning and analytics added and figure out what’s being said, what’s being seen, and do a whole bunch more stuff over there, and that’s the element. We capture the human context and learn from that.

Eightfold: That is a perfect segway. And so what we’re doing here with Eightfold is it’s imploring machine learning and AI, and turning those arguably non-human activities and technologies on a very human level, and in some way allowing HR people to become more humane where they’re able to give in more time, reach out, and really nurture people through the process. Because they’re not so bogged down on the talent acquisition side with hunting who they are, because machine learning and the AI algorithm find those people out in the world and identify where they might be ready to move based on past experience and marry them to your outstanding job. What have you learned so far about Eightfold? What brought you here?

Kunal: Well, I happen to know the company fairly well. So I guess that’s why I’m here, but I totally can relate to the vision and mission of Eightfold. Truth be told, Human Learning itself is a small startup. We have less than 20 people strong, and the way we’ve hired people is really through our networks, but I can easily see the value when you’re scaling up. That’s not going to be scalable, and it’s definitely not unbiased either. They have a tendency to go through your own network where you end up looking for people similar to yourself.

And that has it’s pros and cons, but as we go through the process of really scaling up and ensuring that we give everybody an equal opportunity, the value of machine learning to identifying resources and identifying capability with people just becomes more and more important. Totally relate to the Eightfold mission.

Harish: I think Kunal hit the nail on the head right there. As the company grows personal networks and professional networks become to limited to hire, and after a point it becomes a limiting factor in terms of diversity. Pandora is known for diversity. They have a lot of diversity goals. Something like an AI-based recruitment tool can definitely help with that diversity goals right there.

Eightfold: So with AI they offer masking not only of the person’s face, but it leaves out their name, and anything that would remotely indicate whether or not they’re male, female, gender, race, anything. So I think it’s the next step, I think, where technology needs to lend a hand and get us over this last hurdle battling controversy with AI. As far as talent management, I don’t if you know, but Eightfold offers a way for employers to engage with their employees and to keep them interested and on a career path within the organization.

And it’s just at the right time to help the talent management team to reach out to employees and send them an offer, or a new training program, or what’s the next step for them. How would that work for your organization, to really nurture people throughout their career? They can set an ultimate career trajectory, and the system will identify the classes you need to take, the path that you should take, and the way for you to ultimately reach your goals.

Respondent 2: As we all know in the Bay Area, the job market is extremely hard right now. Recruiting is a challenge. Retaining is just as much of a challenge. A retained employee, in my opinion, is far more valuable than recruiting a new employee. So plans for retaining an employee is going to be extremely valuable, and if we can improve their impact, that’s going to be a gold mine right there.

Kunal: Great points Harish, absolutely. I can’t relate to it personally in context of Human Learning, but like I said, we’re a small company, and I wear so many different hats, as does everybody in the organization. That at this stage in our company’s growth retaining people isn’t really the challenge that we focus on, but I could totally relate to it at the appropriate time in a larger company that retaining people is critical and way more valuable than hiring new talent.

Eightfold: Well, as a veteran of many small startups, I can say the cost of a bad hire for you in this stage is very high. Every hire matters so much, and Eightfold can give you insights into your team. It’ll also tell you who’s best in that team. So it’s not only their skills and their career objectives. And it also does personality analysis and identifies who would work best on that team. So rounding out our minute together here, parting last words from each of you about your thoughts on technology being applied to this difficult task of HR recruitment.

Respondent 1: I think it’s a noble idea, and what Ashu and team are doing is definitely a lot of potential and applicability. I’d love to be able to see the product and see it in action. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet done that, but yes we’re always willing to go come in for a free pilot. So I would love to be able to see Eightfold go places.

Eightfold: I love that. He’s always listening to this. Let’s go.

Respondent 2: Best wishes to Eightfold. Technology has always been the driver of innovation and change, and I hope Eightfold does the same for the recruitment and retention industry.

Eightfold: Thank you both for joining us for Eightfold radio.

Respondent 1: Thank you.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Eightfold Radio. To find out more about Eightfold, please visit us at eightfold2018.wpengine.com, and be sure to listen to our other episodes chronicling the experiences of Eightfold’s customers and partners.

In this episode, Kunal Mahajan and Harish Goli discuss how Eightfold technology is helping to undo some of the built in bias within recruitment.

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