Search

How can we help?

Icon

Using AI technologies in recruitment: is it fair and transparent?

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, where artificial intelligence (AI) plays an increasingly pivotal role in HR and recruitment processes, ensuring responsible and ethical implementation is paramount. Recognising this imperative, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has on 25 March 2024 released comprehensive guidance, tailored to the HR and recruitment sector.

Developed collaboratively with key stakeholders including the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), this guidance addresses the pressing need for clearer frameworks amidst evolving regulatory landscapes, as it identifies potential ethical risks when using AI in recruitment.

Understanding the landscape

The guidance begins by elucidating the multifaceted landscape of AI application in HR and recruitment. It underscores the pervasive influence of AI-enabled technologies throughout the recruitment process, from candidate sourcing to selection, while highlighting inherent risks such as unfair bias and digital exclusion.

Core principles and assurance mechanisms

According to DSIT’s guidance, the five regulatory principles below, identified in the government’s AI white paper, should be what AI systems achieve:

  1. Safety, security, and robustness
  2. Appropriate transparency and explainability
  3. Fairness
  4. Accountability and governance
  5. Contestability and redress

To operationalise these principles, DSIT delineates a comprehensive suite of assurance mechanisms across various stages of AI adoption:

  • AI governance framework
  • Impact assessment (algorithmic and equality)
  • Data protection impact assessment (DPIA)
  • Bias audit
  • Performance testing
  • Risk assessment
  • Model cards
  • Training and upskilling
  • User feedback
  • Ensuring transparency
Sana Nahas

Trainee Solicitor

View profile

‪+44 118 960 4611

DSIT’s guidance marks a significant milestone in fostering responsible AI adoption in the HR and recruitment sector.

Procurement, deployment and operation

The guidance provides meticulous insights into each phase of AI adoption:

  1. Before procurement: before an organisation goes out to tender, it should identify the kind of AI system it wants to procure and why. It should consider the system’s integration with the organisation’s existing processes, and address accessibility requirements. Assurance mechanisms such as impact assessment, DPIA and AI governance frameworks are recommended. Organisations should consult the ICO’s AI guidance and are advised to seek independent legal advice on whether their use of AI is compliant with the UK’s data protection laws.
  2. During procurement: emphasis is placed on evaluating the accuracy, transparency, and risks associated with AI suppliers. Suppliers may have completed a DPIA for their AI model and this should be shared with the procuring organisation. Assurance mechanisms include bias audit, performance testing, risk assessment and model cards. Organisations should identify and plan for a range of potential risks. By way of an example, if the AI system being used scores candidates based on their CVs, and this scoring system is known to disadvantage candidates with disabilities, organisations should plan accordingly by making sure candidates with disabilities disclose this, and then arranging for the CVs of such candidates to be viewed manually rather than go through the scoring system first. Listen to our informative AI, Discrimination and Automated Decision-making podcast here, to understand this are more!
  3. Before deployment: pilot testing is recommended to assess employee understanding, the model performance, and accommodate reasonable adjustments. Assurance mechanisms therefore include performance testing, employee training, impact assessment and transparency. Sometimes, implementing reasonable adjustments (which employers have a legal obligation to do in certain situations) for a candidate can only be done if the AI system is removed from the recruitment process.
  4. Live operation: Continuous testing and monitoring over time are advised to ensure ongoing efficacy and fairness. Assurance mechanisms include performance testing, bias audits and user feedback. Both employees and applicants who interact with the system should be able to give feedback.

Conclusion

DSIT’s guidance marks a significant milestone in fostering responsible AI adoption in the HR and recruitment sector. By equipping stakeholders with actionable insights and robust assurance mechanisms, it paves the way for ethical AI integration while mitigating risks of bias and discrimination. As organisations navigate the evolving AI landscape, adherence to these principles and practices will be instrumental in fostering trust, transparency, and equity in recruitment processes.

If your organisation uses AI in recruitment, you should consider whether this is a type of automated process under the UK GDPR, and whether you must complete a DPIA to ensure your AI system is legally compliant and demonstrate that you have mitigated any high risks.

If you need help with any of the matters mentioned in this article, speak to one of our experienced data protection team members by contacting us here.

About this article

Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Sana Nahas

Trainee Solicitor

View profile

‪+44 118 960 4611

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

art
  • 12 June 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

UK data protection: Important basics

Sometimes, data protection can seem like unhelpful red tape. At other times, it is critical to cultivating a trustworthy reputation.

art
  • 11 June 2024
  • Immigration

UK Immigration Roundup – May to June 2024

As the UK approaches the upcoming general election, immigration remains a focal issue in political discussions. The Conservative party’s recent proposal to cap visas for skilled migrant workers has alarmed various industries who are concerned that a limit to migration could harm vital sectors of the UK economy.

Pub
  • 06 June 2024
  • Employment

Talking Employment Law: What does the new Worker Protection Act 2023 mean for employers?

In this podcast, Lucy Densham Brown and Shauna Jones, members of the employment team, will review the new Worker Protection Act 2023 and provide some guidance on how employers should review their policies in preparation for October.

art
  • 03 June 2024
  • Commercial Real Estate

Sustainability and commercial property: green leases  

Climate change is considered by many the biggest threat we are facing today. With the UK said to have one of the oldest housing/building stocks, the focus on a building’s environmental performance and sustainability has never been more critical.

Pub
  • 03 June 2024
  • Employment

Navigating the Labour Party’s New Deal for Working People: Legal implications and opportunities

Join Monica Atwal and Amanda Glover, for this in-person seminar on ‘Navigating the Labour Party’s New Deal for Working People: Legal Implications and Opportunities’ at our Reading office on Thursday, 20th June.

art
  • 30 May 2024
  • Corporate and M&A

How to exit your business

Selling your business can be a tricky, confusing and sometimes painful process!  However, with some careful planning and right choice of advisers, you can enjoy a relatively smooth and successful experience.