Lydia Dishman at Fast Company: “Unconscious bias is exactly what it sounds like: The associations we make whenever we face a decision are buried so deep (literally—the gland responsible for this, the amygdala, is surrounded by the brain’s gray matter) that we’re as unaware of them as we are of having to breathe.
So it’s not much of a surprise that Ilit Raz, cofounder and CEO of Joonko, a new application that acts as diversity “coach” powered by artificial intelligence, wasn’t even aware at first of the unconscious bias she was facing as a woman in the course of a normal workday. Raz’s experience coming to grips with that informs the way she and her cofounders designed Joonko to work.
The tool joins a crowded field of AI-driven solutions for the workplace, but most of what’s on the market is meant to root out bias in recruiting and hiring. Joonko, by contrast, is setting its sights on illuminating unconscious bias in the types of workplace experiences where few people even think to look for it….
so far, a lot of these resources have been focused on addressing the hiring process. An integral part of the problem, after all, is getting enough diverse candidates in the recruiting pipeline so they can be considered for jobs. Apps like Blendoor hide a candidate’s name, age, employment history, criminal background, and even their photo so employers can focus on qualifications. Interviewing.io’s platform even masks applicants’ voices. Text.io uses AI to parse communications in order to make job postings more gender-neutral. Unitive’s technology also focuses on hiring, with software designed to detect unconscious bias in Applicant Tracking Systems that read resumes and decide which ones to keep or scrap based on certain keywords.
But as Intel recently discovered, hiring diverse talent doesn’t always mean they’ll stick around. And while one 2014 estimate by Margaret Regan, head of the global diversity consultancy FutureWork Institute, found that 20% of large U.S. employers with diversity programs now provide unconscious-bias training—a number that could reach 50% by next year—that training doesn’t always work as intended. The reasons why vary, from companies putting programs on autopilot and expecting them to run themselves, to the simple fact that many employees who are trained ultimately forget what they learned a few days later.
Joonko doesn’t solve these problems. “We didn’t even start with recruiting,” Raz admits. “We started with task management.” She explains that when a company finally hires a diverse candidate, it needs to understand that the best way to retain them is to make sure they feel included and are given the same opportunities as everyone else. That’s where Joonko sees an opening…(More)”.