25th May 2023
3 Min Read

Can chatbots beat the bias?

Russell Norton
Russell Norton
People & Change

What kind of employee are you looking for? Confident, competitive or caring? We experimented with a chatbot to see if it churned out biased job adverts – the results are surprising.

Words are open to serious interpretation – particularly when they’re written down – and we especially connect some words with different genders.

TotalJobs – a leading online hiring platform based in the UK – looked at 77,000 UK job adverts to unearth how gendered language has crept into job descriptions. The study revealed that talent-hunters are unwittingly dissuading candidates from applying for jobs because the language leans towards either male or female applicants.

For example, they found that social care was the industry most likely to use female-biased terms such as support or responsible, whereas industries like consulting swung towards male gendered language such as lead or competitive.

It seems the concern is that gendered language is implicitly turning away certain candidates is right: people are avoiding applying for roles with job adverts featuring words that aren’t typically associated with their gender.

So how far-reaching is this bias? We decided to put this to the test, and what better guinea pig than the AI everyone is talking about – ChatGPT.

Do chatbots beat the bias?

The artificial intelligence (AI) within ChatGPT skims existing data from the internet, so we asked it to describe a CEO to see how biased it may be.

We prompted: “Hey ChatGPT, describe how a CEO should behave.”

ChatGPT said:

Here’s what we learned

We were pleasantly surprised at how neutral this is. Words like ‘confident’ – which tend to be associated with the male gender – do appear, but so do words like ‘responsible’, which is traditionally female.

But before you jump straight into your web browser, we’re not encouraging the use of chatbots to pen your job adverts. However, this is certainly food for thought when advertising your next role.

When you’re putting together a job advert, don’t forget to check your language. Are you using gendered words that could potentially put off the perfect candidate? Or are you opening a whole new world of talent just by choosing your words more carefully?

Every day we work with organisations to create more inclusive workplaces, supercharging their DE&I efforts to attract and retain talent and engage their people. If you want to beat the bias in your comms, get in touch.

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