It’s one thing to be discriminated against by a flesh and blood human being set in their ways and reluctant to move with the times. It’s quite another to discover that Artificial Intelligence has its own chips on its shoulders, and should perhaps look at changing its name to Artificial Discrimination. Jokes aside, a female truckers association has discovered that Facebook algorithms are both sexist and ageist when it comes to playing out ads and is therefore taking Meta to court.
As if life on the logistics recruiting scene wasn’t already challenging enough, a non-profit organization representing women in trucking recently discovered that job ads on Facebook were not
being played out fairly, even when inclusive filters are set. It therefore took up legal representation with Gupta Wessler PLLC, and on 01DEC22, deposited this discrimination charge against Meta,
the group that owns Facebook:
“We represent Real Women in Trucking in the pattern or practice gender and age discrimination charge against Meta Platforms, Inc. that is attached to this letter. Real Women in Trucking respectfully requests that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission open and engage in a thorough investigation of Meta Platforms’ systemic gender and age discrimination in advertising jobs on Facebook. We and our client look forward to working with you and the Commission’s staff on this matter.”
Computer says No!
The 127-page accompanying document shows countless examples – not just in trucking, but across many different fields, where it appears that the computer has decided who should see the job ad, on the basis of which gender it would “traditionally” have been classed as. Two examples: “A truck driver job ad that was shown to only 6% women and 11% people 55 and older, even though women are 54% of all users interested in job hunting and older people are 28% of all users interested in job hunting,” and “An administrative assistant job ad shown to only 2% men and 6% people 55+”.
This kind of bias should, in theory, no longer be happening, since Facebook was already called out by civil rights and labor groups years ago and, in 2019, “agreed to prohibit advertisers from relying on users’ race, gender, age, or other protected characteristics to exclude them from receiving job, housing, or credit ads.”
Lip-service, since it appears its ad-delivery algorithm continues to show certain job ads mainly to men or younger people, despite Facebook having also agreed to look into remedying the problem. Algorithmic bias is real. Computer says no. As Peter Romer-Friedman, civil rights lawyer and a principal of Gupta Wessler PLLC, confirmed: “Our investigation uncovered extreme levels of bias in Facebook’s system that decides which people receive job ads on Facebook, including job ads that Facebook showed to 99% men even though advertisers wanted to reach people of all genders. Facebook’s algorithmic bias is perpetuating outdated stereotypes about what jobs are for men versus women and how older people are not suitable for employment.”
What the truck?!
Desiree Wood, the Founder and President of Real Women in Trucking, said “Facebook is commonly used by truckers to find out about job opportunities. When job ads are hidden from qualified women and older people, it puts them at a greater disadvantage to find a suitable job. This is a real problem for women and older truckers, who already face significant levels of bias in getting hired. It’s also a problem for trucking companies that want to increase their diversity. Many trucking companies want to encourage women to apply for truck driving and warehousing positions. But Facebook’s algorithmic discrimination is preventing companies from reaching qualified women, as well as older people.”
Fix it – we need the drivers!
The algorithm therefore poses an additional hurdle in an industry that is already hugely suffering staff shortages, with the gap between supply and demand growing with every year. CFG reported: https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2022/05/29/pulling-the-brakes-on-truck-driver-shortages/ Over in Europe, the IRU published the latest driver statistics on 14NOV22 (https://www.iru.org/news-resources/newsroom/europe-driver-shortage-triple-2026-if-no-action-new-iru-report), stating “Europe driver shortage to triple by 2026 if no action,” since that is when 30% of Europe’s drivers will retire, and there is very little on young replacements coming in. IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto, warns: “Europe’s driver shortage crisis is accelerating rapidly, posing a major threat to the continent if nothing is done. Trucks transport 75% of Europe’s freight by volume, and 85% of its perishable, high value, and medical goods, such as vaccines and food. Bus and coach services, the most used collective transport mode in the EU, are central to Europe’s decarbonization goals. Without drivers, Europe’s economy, social mobility, and climate plan will grind to a halt.” The report does also give suggestions on how to bridge the gap, however the facts currently are that, despite good wages and high youth unemployment, there are only 6% young drivers in freight trucking, and this figure is even worse when it comes to women in some countries. It gives Spain as an example, which “has one of Europe’s highest rates of female unemployment (14%), yet one of the lowest shares of female truck drivers (2%), in contrast to its female bus and coach drivers (12%).”
But if even Social Media is torpedoing your best efforts to attract more women and young or older staff, what are the best recruitment solutions?
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