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Wednesday, 8th October 2014

Networked Employment Discrimination

Source: Data & Society Research Institute

Brief Description:

Employers often struggle to assess qualified applicants, particularly in contexts where they receive hundreds of applications for job openings. In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the process, many have begun employing new tools to sift through these applications, looking for signals that a candidate is “the best fit.” Some companies use tools that offer algorithmic assessments of workforce data to identify the variables that lead to stronger employee performance, or to high employee attrition rates, while others turn to third party ranking services to identify the top applicants in a labor pool. Still others eschew automated systems, but rely heavily on publicly available data to assess candidates beyond their applications. For example, some HR managers turn to LinkedIn to determine if a candidate knows other employees or to identify additional information about them or their networks. Although most companies do not intentionally engage in discriminatory hiring practices (particularly on the basis of protected classes), their reliance on automated systems, algorithms, and existing networks systematically benefits some at the expense of others, often without employers even recognizing the biases of such mechanisms. The intersection of hiring practices and the Big Data phenomenon has not produced inherently new challenges. However, our current regulatory regimes may be ill-equipped to identify and address inequalities in data-centric hiring systems, amplifying existing issues.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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