Studies suggest that we view those whom we resemble in background and tastes as more able, but machine intelligence is — at least in theory — neutral. Ms Biecques notes that graduates of France's top academies, the grandes écoles, favour team members who share their credentials. By generating a diverse slate of candidates, backed by proof of ability, she hopes the software will help her to convince managers to judge everyone in the round.
Jean Martin, head of research at CEB, says Orange's efforts mirror a wider push by employers to "build an archive of skills that goes beyond what managers can see". As part of its search methodology, Blue Matching trawls employees' blogs on the IBM intranet. Other businesses cast their nets wider, arguing that anything staff post publicly is fair game for analysis.
Not everyone is sanguine about AI's potential. Privacy advocates argue that web-monitoring tools give organisations new powers to peer into employees' lives — and there are signs that regulators are toughening their stance. According to new EU data protection guidelines, employers should not assume that because an individual's social media profile is publicly available they are "allowed to process those data for their own purposes".
The politics of AI can be tricky, too. Line managers may feel that self-service career tools threaten their authority.
Abi Weeks, HR operations director at Harrods, the London department store, argues that experimenting with different roles, not AI, gives people the confidence to put themselves forward for career development. To encourage staff to sample different opportunities, the retailer runs careers weeks with "backstage tours" of hard-to-access departments, such as personal shopping.
Though optimistic that AI will, over time, improve the hiring process, Ms Biecques says smart machines can't do everything. "You can say: this person would be perfect because they have all the qualities. But, in the end, the manager must choose. Every morning they must come in and work with that person — there has to be a chemistry."
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This article originally appeared on Financial Times.