SAP Reveals New Technology to Eliminate Unconscious Bias in Decision-Making

September 13, 20168:41 am1291 views

SAP SE has outlined plans to use machine learning to detect and help eliminate bias in every decision point of the end-to-end talent lifecycle, from hiring through succession.

At SuccessConnect®, SAP showcased planned upcoming capabilities within its market-leading cloud-based SAP® SuccessFactors® HCM Suite to help organisations around the world identify and prevent unconscious bias.

“Bias in business undermines employee commitment, performance and retention,” said Mike Ettling, president of SAP SuccessFactors. “We’re investing heavily in furthering the functionality we have today, as well as in new capabilities across our suite, because we believe technology can help root out and eliminate bias, and promote more diversity and inclusion across the entire business.”

Diversity in the workforce is a business and economic imperative, with research clearly showing better financial returns and improved employee engagement for companies with diverse workforces.

According to consulting firm McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and the number jumps to 35 percent for racial and ethnic diversity.

In a new study conducted by Oxford Economics and sponsored by SAP, Leaders 2020, executives leading digital transformation are more likely to have established diversity programs (46 percent vs. 38 percent of all respondents), and to recognise diversity’s positive impact on culture (66 percent vs. 47 percent) and financial performance (37 percent vs. 29 percent). These Digital Leaders also report higher revenue and profitability growth.

SAP plans to both optimize existing solutions and roll out unique new functionality in key decision areas that historically have prevented organisations from utilizing total talent.

This announcement delivers on the commitment made by the company earlier this year. The planned upcoming technology on display at SuccessConnect included:

  • Recruiting: Machine learning–based sentiment analysis of job descriptions within the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting Management solution to not only identify potentially biased language in job descriptions but also recommend alternative language to ensure the descriptions are gender-neutral. These enhancements are planned for a future release.
  • Calibration: Enhanced calibration within the SAP SuccessFactors Performance and Goals solution to include calibration analysis by diversity rules, including in-app 9-box descriptors and bias detection alerts, to help ensure consistent, equitable standards in evaluating performance and potential. These enhancements are planned for a future release.

See: SAP® Technology Targets Inequity in Workplaces around the World

  • Mentoring: A feature within the career development planning component that will match mentors based on skills and competencies to help ensure mentoring is equitable and inclusive, and efficiently track mentor-mentee relationships. Mentoring is planned for availability in the SAP SuccessFactors solutions Q4 release.

SAP is taking a comprehensive approach to actively address the pressing problem of unconscious bias. By using the diversity of thought and innovation of its own global workforce and harnessing the knowledge and learning from customers and experts such as those in the SAP Diversity and Inclusion Customer Advisory Group, the company is building new technology within the SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite.

“The economic impact and business value of workplace diversity and inclusion is undeniable,” said Debra Plousha Moore, chief human resources officer and executive vice president at Carolinas HealthCare System.

“Data itself is not going to make the change. SAP is now putting Big Data to use to help us see our diversity framework and adjust how we pick talent, how we promote talent and what we want our organisation to represent. Diversity and equity are not philanthropy but business imperatives. SAP is helping to change the dialog on these topics,” Plousha Moore added.

Lisa Rowan, research vice president of HR and Talent Management Services at IDC, said: “Given the higher returns that diversity is expected to bring, SAP is on the right path by helping organisations invest in the right technology now. Companies looking to build diversity and inclusion for a modern workforce will win and pull further ahead, while laggards will fall further behind.”

Also read: How to Create Women-Friendly Workplace Culture: Brigette McInnis-Day from SAP Shares her Views on Executive Talent Management from a Global Perspective

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