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AI: The Impact on Workplace Diversity 

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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Marina Vassilopoulos, reports on behalf of PSG Global 

In March 2022, Forbes published an article entitled “Diversity is Key To The Future of AI”. The piece explored several benefits of the technology, including more inclusive gender equity policies, greater introduction to STEM for women and easier methods of implementing leader sponsorship programs. 

While some industry leaders see futuristic automation as a stark positive, others are less convinced. As artificial intelligence (AI) has the capability to replace a multitude of jobs, many may fear losing their position to a robot. Simultaneously, a 2018 report by McKinsey and Company discovered that the African American workforce would be affected most drastically, instigating questions of racial bias and other problems. 

Another concern may be trust. The late physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that “unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization.” There is no lack of Sci-Fi exploring this risk: both I, Robot (2004) and the more recent Westworld series (2016-2022) raised very real, and increasingly necessary, questions about the dependability of utilising AI.

To help your readers, PSG Global has written an article exploring AI and workplace automation. We have weighed the pros and cons of the contemporary drive to imbue machines with deep learning capabilities – and how to cope with any consequences. 

Why AI?

While ominous, AI has a range of significant impacts that are desirable for the workplace. The automation of menial or repetitive tasks, enhanced productivity and the secure nature of AI make it valuable to any business, especially one struggling for security or the retention of staff. 

In addition, AI is becoming cheaper as software becomes more readily available, requiring a one-off cost rather than ongoing labour costs. In addition, you can purchase pre-built and customisable solutions that can perform tasks flawlessly, eradicating any human error and any subsequent costs or delicate outcomes. 

The Jobs Most Likely to Be Automated

The roles that are most susceptible to being taken over by AI are mostly information-based, without the need for specialist skills or dedicated human capabilities. This is demonstrated by a Government study in 2017 uncovering that 20-24-year-olds were the most likely to have their roles automated – lacking extensive experience or knowledge in their respective fields. 

However, this is dependent on the role pursued. For example, automation is unlikely to replace teachers, especially as human interaction is vital for a child’s development, or writers, as technology cannot accurately mimic the human imagination. 

As a result, automation is likely to replace a multitude of roles, including:

  • Data entry positions
  • Manufacturing roles
  • Forward-facing positions (i.e. receptionist or waiter)
  • Salespersons
  • Cooks
  • Agricultural workers
  • Proofreaders
  • Telemarketers

What can individuals in these roles do to prevent the rise of automation? Unfortunately – very little. The lack of human error and cost-effectiveness of AI means that low-skill jobs (i.e. roles that can be fully learned in less than 30 days) are heavily susceptible to becoming robot-led.

Interestingly, highly skilled or long-term workers may actually benefit from AI taking over the above roles in their company. For example, while a robot would be unable to replace an industry-renowned lawyer, the automation of the reception capabilities may lead to an increase in positive custom. Similarly, a high-level white-collar worker could benefit from automated data entry on a lower level when negotiating profile deals that are susceptible to scrutiny. 

The Most Positive Impacts on Diversity

One of the most vital positives to introducing artificial intelligence to your business could lead to an improvement in diversity metrics. AI solutions eradicate human bias, simulating intelligent behaviours without following any pre-existing trends or prejudices that could impact decision-making, particularly in regard to recruitment. 

One of the main bodies to benefit would be women. A UNESCO study in 2019 discovered that women in the labour force are ‘paid less, hold fewer senior positions and participate less in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Many of these problems are direct consequences of cultural bias, societal assumptions and a lack of progressive views in the workplace.

By eradicating all forms of bias, women are more likely to be judged on the merit of their work, rather than gender – drastically slashing the gap. And it’s not only women impacted, with 8.2 million UK employees reporting that they’ve been discriminated against on gender grounds. There is evidentially a substantial and wide-ranging problem regarding gender bias, one that could be easily remedied using AI software. 

The removal of other forms of bias, such as disability, age or racial preconceptions, may also contribute to the success of a company. Increasing diversity is directly linked to enhancing creativity, and innovation and promoting a healthy environment in which all employees flourish – which can ultimately lead to improved profits. 

Another stark positive to consider is the increase in productivity and efficiency instigated by automation. This does not only benefit businesses as a whole but can improve the lives of all workers. The automation of processes, particularly more complex or data-heavy processes, can eradicate the menial tasks that many employees detest, allowing them to focus on more collaborative or interesting tasks. Similarly, data analytics conducted by highly intelligent software may be able to conceptualise or create new processes that benefit workers. These range from automating materials to predicting sales and reviewing and extracting key data. 

The Problems – and Solutions

Job automation is widely regarded as the most immediate concern for workers, particularly as the use of AI is increasingly inevitable. However, as these jobs are replaced by robots, there is a beneficial knock-on effect: an increased need to both reskill and learn transferable skills, which benefit both the employment market and employees themselves for diversity purposes. 

Another problem faced by businesses wanting to integrate automation into their offering may be the issue of discrepancy regarding socioeconomic inequalities. While McKinsey and Company discovered that the African American community would be the hardest hit by AI replacement of human jobs, the software may actually have positives when introduced responsibly. For example, the software can aid low-wage workers, such as helping to forecast weather for farmers.

Similarly, AI can alleviate the impacts of increasingly ageing populations – reducing stock market volatility. Using robo-advisors to analyse data points and execute trades with high accuracy means a mitigation of risks and higher returns. As this has subsequent and lasting impacts on factors such as inflation, greater market stability leads to both long-term beneficial growth factors. From the ability to acquire financial resources, stable job positions with adequate wages and access to quality housing, AI has long-reaching positive impacts, even if these are not immediately visible. 

While AI is still relatively new and we are only on the cusp of the competencies of the software, it is evident that the software will have a major impact on the working environment, particularly regarding diversity. The benefits may, however, be dependent on who implements them and the reasons that drive them, especially as the technology grows in power. But, if used correctly, AI brings the potential for a world that seeks diversity, equality and worker satisfaction, empowering both future and past generations. 


PSG Global is a highly reputable international provider of office-fit outs and relocation project management services.