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Reducing Bias In AI-Based Financial Services

By the Skills4Good Team

In November 2019, Apple Card came under fire for allegedly being “sexist.” High-profile tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak took to Twitter to vent their frustrations  and complained that they had been awarded significantly more credit than their wives, even though the women had high credit scores. 

The outrage over the issue raised concerns about how the algorithms that are increasingly impacting people’s ability to access financial services can be very discriminating.   

Fast forward to March 2021, and an investigation into the matter  found that Goldman Sachs, who managed the Apple Card, did not use discriminatory practices or violate any fair lending laws. 

The New York State Department of Financial Services, however, said that the “inquiry stands as a reminder of disparities in access to credit that continue nearly 50 years after the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The data used by creditors in developing and testing a model can perpetuate unintended biased outcomes.”

Unintended Bias in Financial Algorithms

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no doubt transforming the financial services industry — delivering new efficiencies by speeding up complex decisions and processes. While the benefits are clear, there is also the danger that unconscious bias  can manifest itself in financial algorithms. If stakeholders do not create fairer models, AI risks replicating and amplifying stereotypes historically prescribed to people of color, women, and other vulnerable populations. 

Here’s how financial institutions and leaders can ensure that their AI-powered services do not lead to biased, racist, and sexist outcomes. 



Design for Privacy and Human Rights

If left unchecked, the use of big data and AI can threaten the prohibition of discrimination, the right to equality, and the right to privacy. That’s why there must be transparency, accountability, and safeguards on how algorithms are designed and deployed . Stakeholders must carefully consider how they can best leverage machine learning without adversely impacting fundamental rights. 

Guidelines must be adopted to ensure companies uphold human rights standards. The European Commission, for example, has proposed a new regulatory framework  on AI that aims to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and user safety. 

In its proposal, the EU commission said that the “proportionate and flexible rules will address the specific risks posed by AI systems” and “ensure that AI in Europe respects our values and rules, and harness the potential of AI for industrial use.”



Perform Algorithmic Impact Assessments

Extensive audits of algorithms  will minimize the risks of unintended consequences. This involves running different scenarios, proactively identifying bias in AI systems, and building effective controls to ensure that algorithms are developed and used in full respect of human rights.

Skills4Good’s Responsible AI & Data Audit Programs can help firms evaluate their AI technology and assess how the automated decision-making process may impact their customers’ rights. Skills4Good uses the Privacy and Human Rights by Design for AI Audits  to support companies in creating a set of principles for the responsible adoption of AI.

Build A Responsible AI Culture

Embedding diversity and inclusion  into a financial company’s workplace culture will prevent inherent societal biases from creeping into machine learning systems. With diverse teams embarking on AI projects, financial companies can see to it that the results of their AI solutions are inclusive.

Skills4Good’s Responsible AI Courses help companies train their employees to be responsible AI stewards who can understand, anticipate, and mitigate relevant issues such as bias and discrimination.

The controversy behind Apple’s alleged ‘sexist’ card shows how machine learning algorithms can exacerbate inequality and discrimination. Financial services firms must find the right balance between innovation and human rights protection, and ensure that their AI systems respect and uphold human rights  such as privacy, equality, and non-discrimination

Find out how Skills4Good’s Responsible AI & Data Audit Programs—which include the Privacy Impact and Human rights impact assessments—empower companies to harness AI without harming individual human rights.

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Kind Words from Our Partners

Shell

“I’m excited about this partnership with Skills4Good. In my experience, the most successful teams are built when diverse individuals with unique experiences choose to work together with a single purpose.”

Michael Crothers
President & Country Chair
Shell Canada

Equifax

“Our partnership with Skills4Good is a unique opportunity for us to develop our talented Equifax leaders while making a difference in the communities in which we live and work.”

Lisa Nelson
President
Equifax Canada

Global Impact

“Skills4Good has a unique model for improving corporate employee engagement and Global Impact is excited to be supporting their U.S. expansion.”

Scott Jackson
President & CEO
Global Impact

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“I’m excited about this partnership with Skills4Good. In my experience, the most successful teams are built when diverse individuals with unique experiences choose to work together with a single purpose.”
- - - Michael Crothers, President & Country Chair, Shell Canada

“Skills4Good was recommended to us and so we registered our nonprofit. I like working with them because the process was fast and easy. I highly recommend them to my nonprofit sector colleagues.”
- - - Danny Glenwright, Executive Director, Action Against Hunger Canada

“Our partnership with Skills4Good is a unique opportunity for us to develop our talented Equifax leaders while making a difference in the communities in which we live and work.”
- - - Lisa Nelson, President, Equifax Canada

"I give Skills4Good an excellent rating. Their team was incredibly helpful, responsive and encouraging. They didn't rush the match, ensuring I had explored a variety of options to choose the right nonprofit for me. I would highly recommend working with Skills4Good, and think it's such a great non-financial benefit a company can offer their high valued employees. I strongly recommend them to my colleagues at RBC."
- - - Jodi Wright, Senior Director, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

“Skills4Good’s service was excellent in matching our busy Board with interested candidates. They got the ball rolling, did what they said they were going to do, and provided a great candidate who accepted a position with our Board. I highly recommend them to my nonprofit colleagues.”
- - - Roland Osske, Board Chair, Immigrant Services Calgary

“The quality of the Board Matching Program services I received from Skills4Good was excellent. I liked their personalized service, their online videos and their prompt response times. I highly recommend them to my colleagues at Enbridge.”
- - - Laszlo Varsanyi, Vice President, Enbridge

"I rate Skills4Good's matching services as excellent. I liked how prompt their team responds to my inquiries. They are very easy to work with."
- - - Heather Evans, Managing Director, Community Living Ontario Foundation

“I appreciated that Skills4Good got to know me well. Their approach was very high touch and greatly helped with my selection of board opportunities. I give them an excellent rating!”
- - - Benjamin Winograd, Managing Director, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

“Skills4Good is an excellent resource to find qualified Board members. They were always professional and supportive. The process was effortless, timely and successful!”
- - - Gregory Caswell, Executive Director, Alberta Emerald Foundation

“Skills4Good’s board matching services were excellent. The program was effective and efficient. Josephine was extremely relatable and supportive throughout the entire process. I highly recommend Skills4Good to my LGM colleagues.”
- - - Eddie McWhirter, EVP-Finance, LGM Financial Services

“Skills4Good was very professional and efficient in matching us with great new board members! Their board matching services are excellent! I highly recommend them to my colleagues in the nonprofit sector.”
- - - Karen MacMillan, Executive Co-Director, Foothills Academy

“I give Skills4Good an excellent rating. They couldn't have made it easier for me to connect with a nonprofit. The online training was fit for purpose and the interviews/questionnaire were instrumental in finding a good fit. I am very happy with my match, which wouldn't have happened without their help. I highly recommend them to my colleagues at Shell.”
- - - Julia Stadnyk, Senior Legal Counsel, Shell Canada

“Skills4Good’s services were excellent. Their communication was outstanding - clear, kind, and very punctual. The process was thorough and laid out clearly, which certainly built trust in not only Skills4Good/B3, but in the candidate that was successfully matched with us. I really enjoyed working with them and am very excited that we're welcoming a new board member!”
- - - Joshua Dalledonne, Board President, Calgary Young People's Theatre Society

“I give Skills4Good’s services an excellent rating. I liked working with their team! They were very professional, warm and really cared that I ended up at a nonprofit that not only aligned with my passions, but that was also going to be a good fit with my personality. I highly recommend them to my colleagues at RBC.”
- - - Stephanie Breitman, Senior Credit Analyst, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

”We registered with Skills4Good to try a new recruitment method. The quality of their services was excellent. They had easy-to-use online tools and were very responsive with their feedback. I highly recommend them to my colleagues in the nonprofit sector.”
- - - Joy Parsons, CEO, Fair Haven Homes Society

“Skills4Good invested a lot of work to ensure a great match. I am grateful to Skills4Good for my board appointment. Given their excellent service, I highly recommend them to my Enbridge colleagues!”
- - - Tanya Mushynski, Vice President, Enbridge

“Skills4Good was intentional about understanding our board needs. They presented excellent candidates and we’re thrilled with the outcome!”
- - - Anne Marie Peirce, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Mississauga

”The absolute professionalism, dedication to personal development and the opportunity to learn directly from the Skills4Good team was excellent. It is evident that they’re respected and connected within the industry. I highly recommend them to my colleagues at Shell.”
- - - Jamie Beyore, Director Global Wholesale, Shell Canada

”We were in need of quality board members and were having a hard time connecting with the right individuals. The Skills4Good team was very professional. The candidate was well suited. Communication was easy and the process was efficient. I am very happy with their services. I highly recommend them to my nonprofit colleagues."
- - - Bill de Jong, Board Director, Janus Academy Society

"I give Skills4Good an excellent rating. Their program worked perfectly for me. I liked how organized and methodical the matching program was. I also liked their team's individual and personalized approach. I would recommend them to my colleagues at Equifax."
- - - Yosh Ubieda, Senior Finance Analyst, Equifax Canada

”We had been looking for some months to add new members to our Board of Directors. Skills4Good’s services were excellent. We liked working with them because of the quality of applicants we received. I highly recommend them to my colleagues in the nonprofit sector.”
- - - Samantha Fox, Board Chair, London Youth Advisory Council

“I rate Skills4Good’s services as excellent. Everyone was very responsive and helpful. The board volunteer opportunities identified were very much what I was looking for and the Leaders on Board online course was interesting. I highly recommend them to my colleagues at Shell.”
- - - Julianne Osberg, Senior Counsel, Shell Canada

“Skills4Good’s professionalism in finding someone for us was unbelievable and made my workload a lot easier as they did the legwork in finding someone. I give them an excellent rating and highly recommend them to my nonprofit colleagues.”
- - - Sarah Preston, Gateway Association

“I liked Skills4Good’s great, very user-friendly online portal interface and excellent nonprofit board governance training. They provided access to many nonprofits without the need to search for them myself. I would recommend them to my colleagues at Shell.”
- - - Alex Markos, Production Manager, Shell Canada

“Skills4Good is a professional organization to work with! Thanks so much for helping us find an amazing person to join our board! I highly recommend them to my nonprofit colleagues.”
- - - Kate Butler, Board Director, Hope 24/7

“I give Skills4Good an excellent rating! They invested a lot of time and effort to determine my interests and objectives to ensure a great match. They were very responsive to my feedback throughout the process. I would recommend them to my colleagues at Enbridge!”
- - - Tanya Mushynski, Vice-President, Enbridge 

“I liked Skills4Good’s personalized connections and excellent support they provided our nonprofit. I highly recommend them to my nonprofit colleagues. Their services were excellent.”
- - - Rebecca White, CEO, Engineers of Tomorrow

“Skills4Good has the nonprofit connections and methodology in place to first understand what resonated with me professionally and personally. They found the appropriate board contacts to facilitate my placement. I would recommend them to my colleagues at Shell.”
- - - Brody Mainville, Head of Retail, Shell Canada

“We contacted Skills4Good because of their impressive reputation. Their board matching services are excellent! I enjoyed communicating with their team. They made the board matching process very smooth. I have only positive feedback from my experience with Skills4Good!”
- - - Julie Wildgoose, Board Director, Centennial Infant and Child Centre

“Skills4Good’s level of service and professionalism is top-notch. I liked their very high touch service and online board training. They made sure I understood everything and were there for me every step of the way. They really match personal passion to nonprofit. I give them an excellent rating and highly recommend them to my colleagues at LGM.”
- - - Diana Ricketts, VP of Strategic Partnerships, LGM Financial Services

”The communications we received from Skills4Good was terrific. The candidate was a good match to our organization. I highly recommend them to my colleagues in the nonprofit sector.”
- - - Carlene Chrumka, Executive Director, Janus Academy Society

”The Skills4Good team was very knowledgeable about the working of Boards and areas that would not be known by the more general audience. I would recommend them to my colleagues at Enbridge.”
- - - Christine Neff, Vice President, Enbridge

“I give Skills4Good an excellent rating! Their matching process was spot on to connect applicants with the experience and interest to our nonprofit board. This is a great service to match volunteers with the right skill sets for boards. I highly recommend them to my nonprofit colleagues.”
- - - Pam Banks, Executive Director, RIC Centre

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