- Many companies are prioritizing technology in strategic planning, but they also need to ensure bias is not built into the framework, according to Hogan Lovells. The global law firm's report released Jan. 14 highlights pitfalls that could hamper technological advancement and legal considerations that employers may need to take into account.
- More than half of the 550 businesses surveyed said development and deployment of technology is a core part of their growth strategy, the report found. Although respondents named bias in programming and data as the second-most important ethical issue, almost half (45%) of businesses do not check their technology for gender or racial bias. If the technology is purchased rather than developed in-house, "the very least you should do is seek warranties and assurances that the procured software does not contain biases," — and check it before implementing, the firm advised.
- Technology also comes with threats when deployed quickly, such as increased cybersecurity vulnerability, according to the firm. The majority (76%) of respondents said they were moderately or very concerned about a potential regulatory investigation or litigation after a major failure of systemic technology that supports their business, the report found — but less than half (40%) of C-suite business leaders are actively involved in the regulatory and litigation aspects of mitigating technology failure. Senior management and a company's board should oversee technology risk, Hogan Lovells advised.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 caused many companies to pivot to telework, resulting in a greater reliance on technology. But HR struggles in its relationship with IT and also data management, according to experts.
"HR and IT in most organizations are not as good friends as they need to be," Katy Tynan, principal analyst at Forrester, told HR Dive in a recent interview. "Both of them think of each other as the 'party of no,'" Tynan said, adding that there needs to be more relationship building between the two departments. HR has the ability to provide input on whether there may be compliance issues with selected technology, according to the Hogan Lovells report.
"As new tech tools continue to develop at a rapid pace, companies have to remain cognizant of, and focused on, compliance and risk management strategies to avoid potential regulatory actions, reputational harm, and costly litigation," Partner Lauren Colton, who heads Hogan Lovells' Products Law Group, said in a statement.
Recruiting automation is on the rise, spurred by the pandemic, industry experts previously told HR Dive. However, discrimination issues arise in relation to the use of algorithms and AI in the recruitment process to scan and review resumes, Hogan Lovells found, and lack of representative data can also cause technology-based products to perform poorly. For example, Amazon abandoned an AI recruiting tool in 2015 after finding out it perpetuated hiring bias against women in the company, Reuters reported. Hogan Lovells also noted that prior research on facial recognition technology produced by various companies found error rates are "much higher" for the faces of Black and Asian individuals compared to White individuals.
IT plays a role in assessing how the technology is used effectively and mitigate risks. "In today's volatile environment, the need to deploy technology quickly is increasing the likelihood of technology failure," Hogan Lovells partner Stephanie Yonekura, global head of the firm's investigations, white collar and fraud practice, said in a statement. "Identifying business-critical technologies and preparing for their failure is vital."
For the HR tech space in 2021, HR convergence with technology may be to get rid of quick, reactive and perhaps faulty strategies of last year and focus on strategies that worked, according to experts.