First round of co-creation workshops: towards fair and trustworthy AI systems 

Between June and July 2023, the BIAS Consortium conducted the inaugural series of national co-creation workshops under the theme “Bias in recruitment and HR management: co-creating fair and trustworthy AI systems.” These workshops brought together a total of 144 participants from the project’s seven countries: Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Iceland, Turkey, Estonia, and Switzerland. The participants represented diverse stakeholders, including HR officers, networks of HR professionals, AI experts, workers, workers’ representatives, and representatives of NGOs and organizations engaged in human rights and anti-discrimination efforts. 

Overall, all the workshops were highly successful, with an average of 20 participants each, representing the diverse categories mentioned above. These workshops implemented a tailored co-creation methodology developed by SVEN, the partner in charge of this task. 

The workshops commenced with an introductory segment focusing on topics such as equality, diversity, and inclusion policies within organizations. Discussions also covered the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing AI in the recruitment process. The importance of the participation of workers and civil society organizations in promoting fairer AI use in recruitment was emphasized.  

The core of the workshops involved hands-on activities conducted in smaller groups. Participants simulated recruitment scenarios using personas, fictitious candidates. Their collective objective was to identify potentially biased words associated with intersecting categories that might arise in a fictitious job application process. Each group was composed with attention to balance and was assigned a specific job offer scenario and candidate persona. Participants engaged in screening and drafting text, highlighting biased words, exploring alternative expressions to mitigate biases, and generating explanatory annotations. 

These groups concluded their activities with lively and engaging discussions, resulting in wordlists in national languages. These wordlists, along with annotations from note-takers and the BIAS partners responsible for overseeing the process, will serve as valuable input from the co-creation workshops for the algorithmic design of the Debiaser. 

The workshops wrapped up with networking lunches or aperitifs, during which further ideas were exchanged. This laid the foundation for the establishment of the BIAS National Labs, thanks to the initial face-to-face interactions. 

Currently, partners are actively involved in organizing and conducting the second round of workshops scheduled for August and September 2023. The second set of workshops will focus on discussions related to fairness in the recruitment phase and the screening of CVs and cover letters. Additionally, they will aim to identify the requirements of a Debiaser system. 

The BIAS co-creation methodology for the Debiaser design phase will culminate in a third international co-creation session hosted by SVEN in Venice in December. Participants from all BIAS National Labs will converge to contribute to this vital phase of the project.