How AI could block the massive economic and social opportunity to tap hidden talent


‘Hidden workers’ – those unemployed or underemployed seeking work who are not visible because of companies’ hiring processes – are a massive lost opportunity to society as well as business.

An incisive Harvard Business School study points to over 27 million US workers (no doubt the scope is similar in other nations) whose capabilities are underutilized.

Source: Harvard Business School

One major barrier is the Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) used by almost all major companies for recruitment, which are increasingly applying AI that by its nature usually perpetuates existing biases, even though the study shows that the performance of these hidden workers is often superior.

As I have written before, the way that AI often perpetuates existing bias is emerging as a fundamental challenge to evolving as a society.

Source: Harvard Business School

To say a more inclusive future of work benefits everyone is far too mild. Our ability to tap the abilities and potential of everyone who wants to participate in work is absolutely essential to creating a prosperous economy and society.

The danger is that prejudices and the lack of flexibility in how companies recruit will keep the capabilities of these millions of workers hidden.

Of course the way AI is integrated into recruitment platforms is far from the largest part of the problem. Yet for the companies providing ATS, the path of least resistance is implementing algorithms that recommend what has worked before. This cuts off access to more diverse pools of talent.

The opportunity is clear, not least for companies that evolve their systems to be more inclusive.

Read the report for detailed insights into how to start to better use this massive untapped resource.