Balancing Potential and Precaution: The Ethical Use of AI in HR

April 24, 2023

12:30 PM

By OrgChart Team


Balancing Potential and Precaution: The Ethical Use of AI in HR

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series by OrgChart, focused on how human resources professionals and leaders leverage artificial intelligence. View the full series here.

Is There a Case for the Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Human Resources?

Artificial intelligence (AI) makes its presence felt across industries, and human resources (HR) is no exception. As the role of AI continues to expand in HR, we’re seeing a revolution in people management processes: from automating mundane tasks, streamlining recruitment processes, and aiding in performance management, to delivering key insights through people analytics.

AI claims it can handle many HR jobs — that’s a win for the business, right?

What of the thousands of people within organizations worldwide who are using AI without policies in place to protect the business?

Think twice before adopting a “no AI” policy — your employees are likely already using AI behind the scenes, or they will be soon. Artificial intelligence is an extension of human intelligence, and to believe humans won’t use it to further their business intelligence could be a colossal miss.

Related Content: AI Policy Template for HR Leaders

The sooner HR leaders and infosec teams craft and socialize their policies around AI usage, the better. AI provides powerful capabilities for analyzing and interpreting large volumes of data, presenting insights that are otherwise too time-consuming or difficult to discern — that’s a value add most employees won’t turn down.

Man sipping coffee while smiling at computer
The importance of human intervention and expert judgment in interpreting AI insights helps ensure they are accurate, relevant, and applied appropriately within the organization. Without AI usage policies, employees can be irresponsible in data management and lax, in fact- and bias-checking AI outputs.

What matters at this stage of early adoption is that your policies allow AI to be used for innovation and efficiency while honoring and mitigating the risks involved in using AI in HR.

Challenges of using AI in HR include:

  • Unintended biases: These can lead to unfair practices in recruitment and promotions.
  • Data privacy breaches: Non-compliance with privacy laws can lead to loss of trust and legal consequences.
  • Overreliance on AI: Excessive dependence on AI may negatively affect the human element in HR.
  • Ethical dilemmas: Issues around surveillance, consent, and the degree of AI’s influence in decision‑making.
  • Resistance to change: Employees may resist integrating AI tools, leading to a lack of buy‑in.
  • Inaccurate predictions: AI can produce erroneous results, potentially leading to sub-optimal HR decisions.

If you hope to adopt AI in your HR operations, your approach should be rooted in responsible and ethical AI integration, guided by careful consideration of the following aspects:

  • Data Privacy and Security: Prioritizing compliance with privacy regulations and protecting sensitive employee data, your chosen AI tools must be designed with robust data security measures.
  • Bias Minimization: Work in synergy with developers, crafting fair and inclusive AI-driven solutions, and maintaining a watchful eye for potential biases.
  • Transparency and Trust: Emphasize keeping employees informed about the AI tools deployed within the organization, elaborating on their usage and data utilization in decision‑making processes.

Read our guide: The Potential of AI in HR: Your Comprehensive Guide to Thriving in an Economic Downturn

As you craft your AI-use policies for the whole company or the HR organization, consider best practices for creating an environment of open AI conversations and innovation around AI-supported initiatives. Invite diverse, and ideally equally weighted, voices to conversations around these practices and policies — organizations need innovators and visionaries as much as they need the critical and cautious in the room.

Colleagues sharing a seated discussion in the office

In practicing responsible AI integration, HR professionals should strive to:

  • Maintain the human touch: While leveraging AI for improved efficiency, the human element should remain at the core of decision‑making.
  • Regularly evaluate AI initiatives: Ongoing assessment of AI solutions and their impact on employees is vital, making adjustments as necessary.
  • Establish ethical guidelines: Develop a framework that ensures AI applications comply with ethical standards, privacy laws, and data protection practices.
  • Train HR staff: Equip HR professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the world of AI and manage potential risks.

Artificial intelligence is a revolutionary tool poised to significantly enhance and transform the HR landscape. However, this transformation has its ethical and practical challenges. The journey with AI in HR is not about replacing the human element but rather about empowering it, ensuring that you continue to foster an efficient, inclusive, and, above all, human workplace.