06 March 2020

Artificial intelligence: its role in trust and team diversity

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our company policy. We firmly believe that encouraging and supporting more women into digital and artificial intelligence (AI) professions is a major priority to increase trust. What initiatives should be put in place to promote gender equality in these types of roles?

 

Artificial intelligence, balancing trust and potential biases

Artificial intelligence is playing a significant role in transforming our daily lives. It’s being used to design smarter cities, optimise transport and meet new consumer expectations by enabling the provision of automated solutions. Even in sensitive sectors such as education, health and safety, where justice and fairness are essential, algorithms are increasingly employed to aid decision-making.

However, while AI makes it possible to solve complex problems in an innovative, personalised and efficient way, there is also the risk of proposing biased solutions, particularly in terms of gender. In 2018, a study showed that a facial recognition algorithm was 99% reliable for identifying a man, but its margin of error increased to 35% for recognising a dark-skinned woman.

 

The key: diversity in AI professions

There are hidden risks of developing biased solutions when designing algorithms or collecting data. Bias can also exist in the way problems are solved. To avoid the risks and design more inclusive algorithms, it’s important to ensure better team diversity among AI specialists and also raise awareness of these issues among experts.

Today, according to the World Economic Forum¹, only 22% of AI expert, designer or developer professions are female. A particular effort must therefore be made so that both women and men can acquire the same level of expertise and have the same opportunities throughout their careers.

At Orange, we know that integrating more women is as beneficial to them as it is for the advancement of new technologies that can enable progress for everyone.

 

Just some of our initiatives promoting technical training

Gender diversity is a question of equality and also a priority for progress. That’s why we’re acting upstream to attract more young girls into STEM fields. In several countries we’re organising shadow days allowing young girls to discover a day-in-the-life of a woman engineer or technician in the company.

In France and Romania, the “Capital Filles” programme harnesses the commitment of mentors including Orange volunteers, partner companies and teachers. Together they help shine a light on STEM career choices for young girls from disadvantaged neighbourhoods or rural areas.

We have also signed a Manifesto for retraining women in digital professions and are setting up programmes such as “technician classes” in France.

In Brazil, Orange Business Services has launched the “Young Apprentice Project”, which provides technical training to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and then recruits them into the company.

 

Our diversity commitment

For more than 15 years, we have been proactive when it comes to professional diversity, especially within technical or digital roles. Today the feminisation rate is 36% for our workforce worldwide. Our commitment also extends to women’s access to leadership roles. By 2025, we aim to reach 35% women in leadership roles and parity within talent pools.

 

 

Gender diversity in digital professions will enable the development of inclusive and trustworthy AI. At Orange, only skills count.

Delphine Pouponneau
Orange Group Director of Diversity and Inclusion

1 World Economic Forum (2018), Assessing Gender Gaps in Artificial Intelligence