Greater diversity in the workplace benefits everyone, from employees to companies! That’s why Toshe Ayo-Ariyo, Sonal Patel, and Danielle Ho created UInclude, a company that uses a machine learning algorithm to eliminate biased language from job listings and recruiting materials. The goal of UInclude is to encourage more diverse applicants to apply for jobs, by reducing language that could be alienating.
Toshe, Sonal, and Danielle first met while attending a data analytics bootcamp at the University of Southern California in 2020. “For our final project, we were all placed together in a group. It just so happened that we are all women of color and belong to different communities, so we decided to research on a topic that was female-focused,” Sonal tells In The Know. “To start, we conducted our own research on women in the workforce.”
The group discovered not only that women have a positive impact on global GDP, but that women are being consistently underutilized in the workforce. “We noticed that a significant amount of women’s productive potential still remains untapped, and women are still an underutilized labor source around the world,” Sonal explains.
While working on the project, the group learned that gender bias in job listings and recruiting materials often deters women from applying to jobs. “Research shows that men apply for positions if they meet 60 percent of the qualifications. Women apply for the positions when they feel like they are 100 percent qualified for the role,” Danielle explains. “At that moment, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not alone.’ And we feel that it applies to us and we want to do something about it.”
Toshe, Sonal, and Danielle decided that the best way to combat gender bias in recruiting materials was to create an algorithm that would automatically identify problematic language. “[We] said, ‘Why don’t we create a product, why don’t we create an algorithm that helps employers scan and identify the presence of that gender biased language in their recruiting materials? And then ultimately eliminate that language and replace it with language that is more inclusive and inviting for people of all backgrounds, but particularly female candidates?’” Toshe recalls. “And so that is exactly what we did.”
Toshe, Sonal, and Danielle founded UInclude and developed a machine learning algorithm that could quickly identify gender biased language. Toshe notes that UInclude is a cost-effective way for employers to attract more diverse talent. “Changing keywords in your job description is the lowest cost solution to attract more diverse talent, more qualified talent, while saving the companies time and hiring costs of recruitment,” she explains. “I hope that with UInclude, we will reach the point where people of different ethnicities, people from different age groups and sexual identities working together is a norm.”
Though UInclude’s algorithm initially focused exclusively on gender biased language, the company is working on expanding the algorithm to target a wide range of biases. “We originally started with just gender biased language,” Toshe recalls. “When we decided to keep going with UInclude, it was really important for us to make sure our product is addressing biases against a number of underrepresented groups, particularly the groups that are often left out of the conversation about diversity, [such as] people with disabilities [and] religious minorities.”
Sonal hopes that UInclude will make the workplace a more welcoming place for women of color. She tells In The Know, “I have a strong desire to empower all women of color to embrace their world, take pride in themselves, and to have the necessary support.”
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