Just published in the International In-house Counsel Journal! Full text here. Print edition available in April 2018.
People analytics – the focusing of so-called big data on human resources – is a tool for finding those factors that correlate with workplace success. Done right, people analytics can be extraordinarily powerful tools for testing, understanding and advancing the practice of human resources. Done incorrectly, and there is a potential to bake bias right into the core of your human resources activities. The story told about the future of people analytics is the stuff of utopian writing – that computers will take massive amounts of data (say, the history of your company’s hiring to date and the success or lack of success of candidates) – and derive from that data a way to select the best candidates for the job. And because these processes are based on data, math and formulas, we are led to believe that the results will be free from the usual bias associated with hiring. Put more succinctly, people analytics should help us learn from the past to determine who will be more likely to succeed and who will be more likely to fail fail. Unfortunately, the truth is quite different. With smart lawyering, however, we can create better systems and help our organizations better understand (and thus manage) the risk associated with people analytics.