Report: AI technologies ‘lack cultural competence and demonstrate bias in hiring’

Upwardly Global - an immigrant advocacy group - says AI has an inconsistent track record in the field of career guidance

With the ongoing conversations around AI, the White House recently issued an Executive Order focused on “safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence.”  

Included in the Executive Order are efforts to support workers, noting, “AI is changing America’s jobs and workplaces, offering both the promise of improved productivity but also the dangers of increased workplace surveillance, bias, and job displacement.”

  • Develop principles and best practices to mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers by addressing job displacement; labor standards; workplace equity, health, and safety; and data collection. These principles and best practices will benefit workers by providing guidance to prevent employers from undercompensating workers, evaluating job applications unfairly, or impinging on workers’ ability to organize.
  • Produce a report on AI’s potential labor-market impacts, and study and identify options for strengthening federal support for workers facing labor disruptions, including from AI.

Response from an Immigrant Advocacy Organization

In a statement, Jina Krause-Vilmar, CEO and president of Upwardly Global, welcomes the White House action, but says, “Let’s be clear. Although emerging AI technologies have potential, they have an inconsistent track record in the field of career guidance. This inconsistency is especially pronounced for immigrants, refugees, and asylees entering the U.S. workforce, as conventional tech solutions for career services fail to meet the unique needs of these populations.”

Jina Krause-Vilmar, CEO and president, Upwardly Global

A recent Upwardly Global report – AI for Impact: How to Thoughtfully Leverage Technology to Deliver on Mission – “points out, these technologies lack cultural competence, fail to adequately recognize skills, demonstrate bias in hiring, and are too expensive,” according to Krause-Vilmar.

She continues, “The consequences of this mismatch carry significant implications for the over two million immigrants, refugees, and asylees who come to the U.S. with professional-level education and experience but find they must work low-wage jobs to survive. Too often, these jobs are fundamentally misaligned with their skills and abilities, leading to financial struggles that affect not only their families but also their broader communities.”

Krause-Vilmar adds, “These outcomes are detrimental to immigrant communities and may also lead to an annual economic loss of up to $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts for the United States.”

Included in the Upwardly Global report:

In testing an AI-powered career navigation tool with 30 resumes from people who previously accessed Upwardly Global’s coaching services, the tool “underperformed on almost every measure.”

The report adds, “Subsequent recommendations for upskilling, training programs, and jobs were therefore ill-suited to the candidates’ actual experiences and education level.”

Among the examples offered in the report, “A candidate from Turkey with a Ph.D. in economics and 10 years of experience in financial analysis, data analysis, and machine learning was recommended for an introductory course on probability and statistics.”

Upwardly Global is “taking a long-term approach and investing in making digital technology a core part of its internal competency.”

Among issues and actions to be addressed:

  • Clarify job seekers’ most crucial needs and identifying AI tools that can best address those needs.
  • AI tools designed for supporting career navigation must be able to recognize and evaluate non-U.S. experience as well as they do for U.S.-centered experience.
  • Ideally, an external AI tool would also seamlessly connect with our own internal database to automate the flow of information about users’ experiences with the tool.
  • Share learnings of  emerging new technologies with the industry so that we all rise together.

Read more about the Upwardly Global report – AI for Impact: How to Thoughtfully Leverage Technology to Deliver on Mission.