Workforce Agility: The Critical Importance of an Ethical & Inclusive AI-Driven Approach

CareerLabs

SHRM articulated the importance of workforce agility earlier this year when they said:

Facing increasing competition, shrinking product life cycles and rapidly evolving customer interests, organizations are left with the option of either becoming agile or facing a slow death as today’s operations and procedures become tomorrow’s obstacles.”

SHRM understands what it’s 260,000 plus members need to be doing to help their members and their organizations cope with our current workplace challenges — and they told HR about it a good 14 months before the global coronavirus pandemic kicked in.

Needless to say, SHRM’s advice about workforce agility is even more relevant now than it was when they wrote about it last year.

Why workforce agility is critically important

That same SHRM article does a pretty good job of defining workforce agility as well. That’s a good thing since everybody seems to have a slightly different notion of what agility actually is, and SHRM’s definition may be as good as any:

What is agility? It’s an organization’s ability to alter its direction or adjust to operate successfully. An agile organization requires its workforce to swiftly adapt to the changing needs of customers, employees and the marketplace. Being agile is a challenge HR should embrace.”

What SHRM didn’t know back in January 2019, when they first wrote about workforce agility, is that it would be a driving concept for organizations everywhere as they coped with the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

Just this summer, a McKinsey whitepaper based on their own research made the very same point:

Around the world, a growing number of organizations are embracing agility to improve delivery, increase speed, and enhance customer and employee experience. Indeed, in the time of COVID-19, many organizations have accelerated their shift to agile. Our recent research found that agile organizations responded faster to the crisis, while those that do not embrace agile working may well forfeit the benefits of speed and resilience needed in the “next normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

So, what does it take to build an agile, high-performing workforce in an inclusive way?

We hear this asked a lot because leaders everywhere are working overtime to figure out just how to move their organizations ahead as we all cope with the unprecedented changes of 2020.

But coping with workplace changes isn’t new. What is new is both the speed of the changes we face, and the role that Artificial Intelligence plays in so many of them.

AI as a “core competitive advantage”

Erik Trautman, the entrepreneur who started both The Odin Project (an open-source web development community), and Viking Education, (a fully online software engineering program), has written extensively about what it means to be AI-driven. He believes that an AI-Driven organization is one that derives its core competitive advantage from the use of AI.

The difference, he says, “carries through every layer of the organization. In the case of AI-Driven, the organization doesn’t just use AI, it is built entirely around it. … Even businesses which are currently “data-driven” (they have successfully unified their data warehouse and have functions which derive insights and predictive value from it) have a large gap to cross in order to rearrange their processes to treat data as the first class citizen rather than a byproduct …”

But he also adds this: “Core AI companies are those who drive the forefront of the AI Revolution. They are the ones who will benefit from the Virtuous Cycle of AI Products and who often build the products that support AI Assisted companies. They know that their competitive advantage is derived from the quality of their research and technical talent and invest accordingly to support them with great tooling, infrastructure and data.”

Erik Trautman makes a great point. It’s just not enough to simply utilize AI — you must commit to the ethical and inclusive use of AI.

An Ethical and Inclusive Approach

At Fuel50, our commitment to ethical and inclusive AI is built upon our commitment to the principles of Fairness, Transparency, and Inclusivity.

When we think about diversity and inclusion, it is according to the following best practice principles:

  • Transparency is essential; opportunity transparency will deliver fairer and more equal talent decisions that simultaneously support your people to become aligned with the highest standards of inclusivity
  • Rigorous testing should be required across the lifecycle of AI systems in sensitive domains
  • Annual auditing of your mobility data and ongoing monitoring is necessary to test for bias, discrimination, and other harms
  • We support career progression and advocacy (i.e. through mentoring programs), and we enable democratization of opportunities for all through our marketplace tools

Our purpose has always been to positively impact the careers and lives of all employees. That is why Fuel50’s software is designed to do good. We believe that a deep commitment to inclusive talent practices is needed and it starts with a charter that is built into your skills architecture & organizational DNA.

In fact, Fuel50’s Digital Capability Architecture is pivotal to the principles of transparency and inclusivity. It drives a more inclusive working culture through:

  • Incorporating critical diversity and inclusion capabilities in all Executive and Manager Level roles, supporting a shift of mindset from the top down
  • Amplifying behavioral standards around diversity and inclusion and holding leaders accountable for driving positive change
  • Shining a spotlight on unconscious bias throughout the organization
  • Ensuring diversity and inclusion practices are present in recruitment, performance management, and leadership development

We are proud to say that continuous diversity and inclusion checking of Fuel50 developed role profiles ensures they are not biased, discriminatory, or supporting unwanted stereotypes.

Building on Ethical Artificial Intelligence

Some companies utilize multiple sets of data, while others look fancier on the packet and, when you look under the hood, are more like a series of “IF statements” (like in an Excel file) rather than true artificial intelligence.

That’s where Fuel50 can help, because Fuel50 is the plug-and-play agile talent solution that’s built on ethical artificial intelligence.

We know how hard it can be to add to your already-huge tech stack, and that’s why we designed the Fuel50 user experience to be just as smart as its AI. For example:

  • Fuel50’s AI can populate career journeys, gigs and career opportunities, learning modules and vacancies as soon as the user logs in based on their role profile.
  • It’s simple and easy to teach Fuel50 a little more about yourself using the personalization tools.
  • You also get continuously new suggestions based on every action. That means that the more you use Fuel50, the more it gets to know who you are!

Fuel50’s ultra-intelligent marketplace AI is incredibly robust and can leverage career experience data pooled from some of the world’s leading Fortune 500 logos over the past 6+ years.

As Josh Bersin puts it,

“Despite the hype by many vendors, AI is not something you “buy”. Rather, AI is embedded in all the technologies we use. AI tools leverage data (and you must have quality data to make AI work) to predict, suggest, recommend, inform, and answer people in more intelligent ways.”

The Fuel50 platform leverages artificial intelligence to connect people to each other, to their organizations, and to themselves in a fair, transparent, and inclusive way. Leaders can develop relationships with their people like never before. Plus, organizations and HR teams can make decisions that truly empower their employees.

It is essential now that we are making informed decisions about our AI and people intelligence, so that it aligns with business goals for diversity. Plus, it is more important than ever before to ensure that the AI impacting your people is built to the highest standard of ethics and inclusivity, so you can make a positive impact on the lives of your people and do no harm.

Fuel50 is the solution that mobilizes your talent and delivers true ethical AI-driven workforce agility. Talk to us about our inclusive talent marketplace and learn more about our commitment to best practices in diversity and inclusion.

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