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AI & Future Technologies

Forum: Ethical AI — How ManpowerGroup Navigates the Human-Technology Frontier

· 11 minute read

· 11 minute read

In the latest issue of Forum magazine, we see how ManpowerGroup created a set of guidelines to help employees and clients navigate the advancement of artificial intelligence and generative AI

As an organization, ManpowerGroup embraces new technologies as opportunities to amplify human strengths, uphold our values, and create meaningful work. We are continually looking for ways to become more digital, efficient, and attuned to the possibilities offered by emerging tech. Our recognition as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” amplifies our sense of responsibility to approach these new tools in a thoughtful manner.

We believe AI may be the most significant new tool in a generation – with the potential to reshape not only our workplaces, but also our understanding of human potential. The rapid ascent surrounding AI has left leaders across various industries contemplating how to effectively integrate this groundbreaking new technology into their organizations.

At ManpowerGroup, we were no different.

The potential of AI excited us, yet we also knew to tread cautiously, aware of both AI’s capabilities and its risks. How could we fully embrace this new technology in our workplace? How could we ensure that our employees would not only adapt to using AI, but embrace it … while minimizing potential risks to the organization? These questions guided us as we embarked on a journey of exploration and learning.

Check out the entire Winter 2024 issue of Forum magazine here.

That process culminated in the introduction of our “AI Guidelines” early in 2023 – a comprehensive framework that balances our commitment to innovation with the regulatory and ethical foundations of our business. Our objective was clear: to share our experiences and insights, not only from within our organization but also from the broader AI landscape. We aimed to create guidelines for the responsible use of AI that would empower our colleagues to leverage these evolving tools for productivity and efficiency. These guidelines were not designed exclusively for ChatGPT; they were meant to encompass any tool that leveraged data to generate insights and influence decision-making through algorithms and/or machine learning. 

The Origin of Our Guidelines: It Began with Collaboration

Central to the development of our guidelines was the existence of a highly collaborative “AI New Projects Review Committee.” Launched several years ago and chaired by one of the co-authors, the committee collaborates to evaluate emerging technology processes and opportunities. This diverse group of 11 colleagues comprises experts from various fields, including technology, legal, marketing, data privacy, human resources, and business operations.

The genesis of the guidelines? Our recognition that our colleagues worldwide would benefit from consistent guidance on the best ways to use and think about emerging AI tools. The process of crafting these guidelines began with a deep reflection on the implications of AI. It wasn’t only about understanding how AI works; it was about comprehending the legal, data privacy, marketing, and reputational dimensions of its adoption. We realized that to be truly impactful, we needed to bring together perspectives from across our organization. This would ensure that not only were we checking all of the necessary boxes, but we’d be able to fully explore how to best utilize AI organization-wide.

As the committee delved into discussions, the focal point naturally gravitated towards AI and machine learning, and several priorities emerged:

      • Providing consistent guidance on AI tools for our global workforce
      • Emphasizing the need to apply human judgment, since AI can make mistakes
      • Explaining how tools like ChatGPT actually work – they aren’t magic and they sometimes require caution
      • Encouraging employees to see AI as an ally rather than an adversary
      • Creating role-based guidelines relevant to individual jobs
      • Underscoring the importance of data ethics, security, and privacy

Rather than imposing directives from the top, our approach was collaborative. We engaged our teams in a collective effort to gather insights, crowdsource ideas, and synthesize thoughts. It was important to us that the guidelines were not only relevant but also relatable to the experiences of our employees, balancing AI’s capabilities with human strengths. As we state in the document, “AI is a powerful tool, but it cannot replace human creativity, intuition and empathy.”

That’s why we sought to craft general use guidelines that could apply to everyone as well as create specialized guidance for roles like recruiting, sales, marketing, and social media.

Proceed with Caution

Regulatory Attention — ChatGPT and AI will continue to attract the attention of regulators, and while it’s still unclear whether temporary bans and restrictions will become permanent, regulators are clearly paying attention to AI and will proceed with issuing guidance and/or laws impacting the use of AI.

Ethics First — At ManpowerGroup, we need to ensure we leverage AI tools for innovation and productivity, while continuing to apply the highest standards for diversity, security, and ethics, principles we already apply in our everyday operations, to new channels including generative AI and ChatGPT.

Evolving Legal Landscape — Al-generated content may create issues under existing laws relating to intellectual property rights, data privacy, and other types of liability. Always check with your local ManpowerGroup Legal Department for guidance. (Caution: Do not ask ChatGPT for legal advice!)

Employment Decisions are Very Sensitive — Existing employment laws clearly apply to the use of Al in making employment decisions; be careful that ChatGPT or other tools do not lead to illegal or unethical decision-making processes. Here too, your local Legal Department is a great resource.

Flexibility in Action

Our guidelines are not static documents; they are living, evolving frameworks meant to adapt and grow in tandem with the dynamic AI landscape, not least because the only certainty about how AI may unfold is uncertainty. Real-world examples breathe life into these guidelines, making them tangible and comprehensible for our employees. Our message is clear: AI is not the enemy; it is an ally that can amplify human capabilities and potential. 

Guidelines and Best Practices Tailored for You

One of our primary objectives was to ensure these guidelines resonated with individual job roles. We wanted to provide our employees with a road map for how they could partner with AI to elevate the quality of their work.

Across all roles, the guidelines emphasize the importance of balancing AI’s capabilities with human creativity, empathy, ethics, and discretion. By thoughtfully combining the strengths of both, we can achieve better outcomes than either could independently. These guidelines aim to instill this mindset across the organization.

To start, we outlined a few potential use cases, including:

      • Search/writing tasks
      • Task automation
      • Research clients

The guidance we shared states, “Just like you wouldn’t share confidential or commercially sensitive information in a job advertisement or on social media, avoid sharing client or personal information as it involves loading content into an external website which becomes public once entered.”

We underscored the potential of AI to handle repetitive tasks, thereby boosting efficiency and freeing up time for employees to focus on more creative endeavors. However, they come with a strong caveat: Always fact-check and edit the work generated by AI to ensure accuracy and alignment with our values. 

Recruiting with Heart

Given ManpowerGroup’s core focus on workforce solutions, specialized guidelines for our recruiters became imperative. While AI tools can play a part, our recruiters are the catalysts for infusing the human touch. They are the architects of engagement and authenticity in job advertisements, ensuring the company’s values shine through.

The potential benefits of AI for recruiters include the use of those tools in writing job descriptions and ads as well as candidate communication. But when it comes to personal data, we stress the utmost caution and responsibility. Our recruiters are not only recruiters; they are the guardians of personal data. That’s why our guidelines state we must always protect personal data, comply with local data protection laws, and prioritize human interaction and empathy to create a positive candidate experience. While AI can assist, it should never replace the essential human judgment required in making crucial employment decisions. 

Building Client Relationships

In sales and client-facing roles, using AI as a tool to support aspects such as research, lead generation, and general sales assistance is recommended. However, we advised caution should be exercised in relying solely as AI is not “real-time” and does not have context/insight you gain from building client relationships. 

AI can be an excellent tool and ChatGPT is no exception

Yet it is not infallible. To assist you in utilizing ChatGPT to its fullest potential, here are some best practices:

Partner with AI to improve the quality of work and outcomes — By using AI to assist in tasks, you can increase efficiency and speed, allowing you to focus on higher-level tasks that require more creativity and innovation. Be careful though, sometimes ChatGPT will generate inaccurate information. Always check for accuracy.

Conduct research — Use ChatGPT to research clients or client prospects, the state of the industry, or other similar business research (noting that ChatGPT has limited knowledge of events after 2021).

As a writing tool — Use ChatGPT to assist in writing marketing and sales copy, creating social media or technical sales content, and drafting simple forms, letters, and email messages. It’s important to fact check and copyedit all of ChatGPT’s work.

Don’t be afraid of ChatGPT: It’s not the enemy — AI is a powerful tool, but it cannot replace human creativity, intuition, and empathy. It’s essential to strike a balance between AI and human capabilities to achieve the best outcomes. AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on.

Please note, however… If you have any questions or concerns regarding the usage of AI tools, reach out to your local legal department or contact the AI New Projects Review Committee for appropriate guidance and clarification before using 3rd-party AI. 

Valuing the Human Touch in Content Creation

For content creators in marketing, communications, and social media, AI tools serve as valuable resources for first-draft communications. The best practices we identified include developing messaging, generating ideas, data analysis, and customer service. Nevertheless, as has become a recurring theme, the human touch remains essential for marketers and in content creation. Additionally, the onus is on them to meticulously fact-check, edit, and customize the output to align with our voice and values. 

Balancing Responsible Openness

Our guidelines emphasize the importance of responsible data management in an open AI system. We underscore the need for vigilance to prevent the inadvertent sharing of sensitive information, a mistake that could have severe consequences for individuals and organizations alike. Responsible openness is a duty we take seriously.

At the heart of our guidelines lies a crucial message – balance. We acknowledge that AI is a powerful tool, but it can never replace the quintessential qualities of human creativity, intuition, and empathy. The key to achieving the best outcomes lies in striking a harmonious equilibrium between tech and human capabilities. In our view, this is in stark contrast with the rather bimodal or extremist views that govern AI discussions, most of which are either utopian or dystopian in nature.

At ManpowerGroup, we are strong believers in innovation – we believe that AI and emerging technologies hold immense potential to augment human performance. However, understanding the ethical, legal, and reputational dimensions of their adoption is equally crucial. Our AI Guidelines are more than just a set of rules; they reflect our company’s 75-year commitment to finding new and responsible ways to power the world of work.

This article was written by Richard Buchband, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at ManpowerGroup; and Dr. Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic, Chief Innovation Officer at ManpowerGroup