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If companies can’t recognise their gender equity, maybe AI can

By Shira Jeczmien

Oct 18, 2018

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Gender equality in the workplace is far from becoming levelled. So much so, that according to the World Economic Forum, if we continue to close the gender equality gap at our current pace, it will take 158 years in North America alone. With many countries honing down on the gender pay gap and Iceland becoming the first country in the world to legally enforce equal pay back in February, it seems that when gender equality in the workplace is discussed the general focus is on pay. And while fighting for equal salaries is crucial, inequality in the workplace is rooted in opportunity. Or lack thereof. Enters Pipeline.

Founded by Katica Roy, Pipeline is a gender equity AI tool that was launched in Portland on April 10 2017, which marked the Equal Pay Day in the U.S., which is a day focused on demonstrating how far into the next year women have to work in order to earn as much as their male comrades. To give you a little perspective, in 2016, the average salary for women in the U.S. was 79 percent of that of the average male. But what makes Pipeline and Roy’s approach unique is that it is focused on the bigger issue of equal opportunity. “Pipeline’s detailed analysis is one way to make sure to bridge that gap”, Roy tells the Fast Company. Another aspect that differentiates Pipeline from any other AI workforce monitoring or recruiting tools is that it utilises an AI service that is wholeheartedly focused on gender equity and using data to help companies generate more revenue by recognising the human resources already existing within the company.

Pipeline’s AI works by analysing a company’s internal workforce data every time a performance review, a promotion or a salary review need to take place. According to aggregated information on employees, including performance, skills and crucially, the gender ratio of the team they might be joining, Pipeline’s AI makes unbiased decisions on who is most fitting for the promotion, for the salary raise and gives insights for performance reviews. And before the scepticism begins to flow through your veins, it’s important to remember that, as Roy points out, “Men are promoted at a rate of 30 percent greater than women” and the higher up the career ladder you look, the fewer women there are. According to a recent McKinsey study of 132 companies that employ more than 4.6 million people, women make up a mere 20 percent of all executive roles and more worryingly, women occupy only 20 percent of line roles that lead to executive positions (in 2015, 90 percent of executive positions were from line role promotions).

Pipeline’s data is but a trophy that this is a battle for equal opportunity first and once this is achieved, equal salaries will follow suit. “My life’s work has focused on how people learn, engage, grow and prosper within organizations, and the data says support and desire need to be driven from both directions.” Says Roy. It seems that, with the help of unbiased AI tools (vigilantly monitored that no biases slip into it), gender equity—the measured prosperity that gender diversity in the workplace brings a business—could prove to be a winning factor in the fight for gender equality in the workplace. As Roy says, “This issue is not just about good sense, this is about dollars. Big dollars that turn heads to create social change.”