Glider AI helps enterprises, MSPs and staffing firms make equitable hiring decisions. Its AI-based platform gives teams the data to make better hiring decisions based on verified competencies, practically eliminating hiring bias. Glider AI operates on the premise that if a candidate can showcase the skills needed to do the job, then the candidate must be considered for the job, irrespective of background or pedagogy.
Co-founder and CEO Satish Kumar discusses the true meaning of diversity, Glider AI’s mission of talent quality with DE&I, while debunking misconceptions about AI algorithms in the quest for a more diverse workforce. Companies can develop meaningful DE&I programs, but success requires a change in mindset and approach. Unless change is made at the top — at the board and C-suite — DE&I is simply a checkpoint and not a priority for the enterprise, he says.
How do Glider AI’s tools help with a company’s DE&I initiative?
With Glider AI, candidates get a chance to showcase real-world ability to perform a job. Glider AI also masks personally identifiable information from test results to hiring managers, so the focus on talent is based on performance, fit and ultimately talent quality. Once shortlisted, then the system can reveal candidate details to proceed further.
This way, the entire selection process is made objective, giving the opportunities to all able candidates without any prejudice around race, gender, ethnicity, age, et cetera.
And at Glider AI, we advise our customers to throw away the age-old criteria that favors the privileged. Instead, we advise focusing on candidates’ fit based on their abilities to do the job. And that ability is tested on Glider AI. This candidate selection is based on merit and ability rather than on their economic situation that was never in their control. We want candidates who come from diverse backgrounds to have the same access to opportunities as privileged candidates.
And how does the tool handle compliance requirements around diversity?
Glider AI does this in three ways. First, it’s about the objective evaluation of candidates in the hiring pipeline and giving the same opportunity to everyone. And that’s the EEOC compliance guidelines. On our end, we make sure that Glider AI assessments are scientific, bias-free and validated.
The second is ADA compliance. We provide an inclusive experience for candidates with disabilities through custom accommodations in the workflow. They can also seek additional time to complete the test for disability reasons.
Third is GDPR compliance, where we want to make sure that candidates own the data, and if they want to remove their data from our system, they can place a request and we comply. Everything in our system is through “permissioning”: We do not gather more information than what is provided by the candidate at the time of taking the test in our platform.
How do you define DE&I and how is this reflected in your company’s mission?
I try to keep it simple, it’s hard to understand what DE&I actually means. In layman’s terms, diversity is being invited to a tournament, inclusion is being asked to play, and equity is being offered a ride to the game. Being invited to a tournament team, but not being asked to play does not serve the purpose of a player — diversity without inclusion — is useless. Giving a helping hand to underprivileged players, so they too can play in the tournament is key to a more equitable organization.
Glider AI is a small, yet growing organization, and we have invested in building the foundation for DE&I. We strongly encourage having people from diverse backgrounds in the hiring pipeline. In fact, for our own open roles, I have personally mandated our sourcing partners help diversify their team in front of them. We use our own technology to remove bias from the evaluation process, and internally our team participation is very high. To encourage team participation, we use collaborative tools for communication in open channels.
What I believe in, I do in practice as well. So for me personally, I have moved from bystander to an actor role for DE&I, but now I’m working towards being a strong advocate of DE&I — hence supporting SIA’s DE&I Influencers list made so much sense to me.
Machine learning algorithms have been shown to perpetuate or even exacerbate unconscious bias in hiring decisions. How do you counter customers’ concerns?
At a high level, there is some merit to that statement. But there are caveats. Machines have shown to infer based on what input data is fed; the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is apt. While the human mind cannot correlate multiple data points, machines can, and that also at a large scale shows that we are indeed biased. If your input data is skewed toward a specific type of candidate, the outcome will reflect this.
And we have heard several stories of AI models showing biased outcomes. This becomes problematic if you let the system decide for you as opposed to presenting the insights so that you can make the decision.
The notion of exacerbating our own unconscious bias comes when you let the system decide. At Glider AI, we are not letting the system decide, instead presenting all our findings in an explainable way so that the hiring team can make the determination and the ultimate decision. So, our models are more toward explainable AI that solves the business problem.
Do companies risk excluding some top talent by inserting diversity into the talent pool?
Well, first of all, I question the term “top talent” itself. The basis on which we attribute the badge of “top talent” has the inherent notion of either credentials or pedigree. I will always favor competency over credentials. If we work with a fixed mindset, we cannot break the barriers. Now, the goal of so-called top talent is to have a high-performing team that improves the company’s bottom line. But this goal is better served with a diverse team. Historically underrepresented communities do not have equal access to opportunity, therefore do not have the same pedigree, but this doesn’t mean that their work is any less.
Countless studies prove that organizations that embrace diversity are typically more creative and have a more engaged workforce. DE&I translates to an improved bottom-line. So, the notion of “top talent” must change.
DE&I success requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders for company-wide acceptance. What are some ways Glider AI can create alignment to ensure success?
The real challenge lies in its implementation. Without an informed level of understanding, DE&I becomes just D for diversity. At enterprises, you will see a lot of focus on sourcing from diverse pools, and major resources are deployed there. But without inclusion, diversity does not work. You just add more workers without providing a conducive environment to work hard and improve their performance.
Diversity requires shared ownership and accountability. Investment and buy-in must come from both executives and employees. There has to be an understanding that it is a marathon and not a sprint. It means a continuous feedback loop is pertinent to maintain momentum and improvement. And there’s enough tech-enabled DE&I solutions to help.
From Glider AI’s perspective, we are laser-focused on making the team realize that talent is indeed everywhere, but opportunity is not. And we sincerely want hiring managers and hiring teams to expand their search parameters, invite more diverse talent to go through Glider AI to prove that verified competency is the key to success.
With the Glider AI process, even from a diverse pool, the interview-to-hire ratio is much better. And we then correlate it with candidates’ performance on the job, and tenure of assignment completion to showcase that a high-performing team does come with a diverse pool. It is this understanding that we share with our customers to make sure that it is accepted by all the stakeholders.
Glider AI talks about recruiting solutions for any role. Are there some DE&I challenges unique to contingent workforces versus full-time employees?
There are three inherent challenges unique to contingent workforces. Number one, incentives are not strongly aligned for DE&I among the three stakeholders — staffing firms, MSPs and the enterprise — there are different durations and different goals, so incentives are not aligned.
Number two is goal alignment. The nature of contingent job assignments is temporary. Contingent programs typically manage short-term job assignments so the placement criteria is not comprehensive. Rather, speed and cost are at the forefront. Now, Glider AI is pushing to bring quality as a leading analytic, but that’s still next-level. And we are talking about diversity in the mix, by the way.
Number three: Lack of metrics and accountability. The supplier scorecard needs a new metric. We need to add a diversity placement with corresponding rewards if it is to go anywhere. These challenges are not issues with FTE hiring. At the enterprise, for FTE roles, they control every aspect of the hiring, and internal employees have an incentive to meet the corporate mandate of DE&I.
What do you see as your company’s biggest challenge in helping with the diverse workforce?
There are many and at various stages. Number one, hiring teams need to be aware that diversity hiring comes with a goal of social responsibility. It means that we need to adjust our calibration, and our threshold for hiring diversity candidates. It’s fundamental, and if we are saying, “Hey, this candidate is not on par, and still want to hire that candidate, yet don’t recalibrate our hiring bar for the audience” — that just does not work.
Number two, during the interview process, the team ends up spending so much time on validating the hardest skills that you miss talking about the real human stuff, cultural treatment, understanding the personal journey that is proven to have a much bigger impact on the candidate’s performance.
So when we talk about DE&I, there is lots to talk about — how do we conduct the interview process, and where do we focus the interview?
And the third part, I’ll say that after hiring, teams need to realize that people with underprivileged backgrounds often do not have the same resources as their privileged counterparts. They will need a helping hand in the beginning, and the organization should be able to provide that.
Those are three high-level challenges that we need to address to help build a diverse workforce.