By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
While watching ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix, I learn that Google has a role called Design Ethicist. What could unethical about Design I wonder. As I read more and more, I discover the fascinating world of ethical designing.
Technology is all about ethical choices
All design is about the designer making choices about form and functionality. A website designer may have to keep the content accessible to people who are visually challenged. Or to use color combinations that are visible to people who suffer from color blindness. Adding different functionalities pushes up the cost of the product. Is that ethical?Every single day, designers discover the unintended consequences of their work. We know that people use 3D printing to print knives, guns, explosives, and any other dangerous items. Criminals and terrorists can print guns that cannot be detected. It is a hot favorite among people who make counterfeit products. Many 3D printed objects use materials that are harmful to the environment.3D is also saving lives. It is being used to train doctors and surgeons. In war torn countries, they are used to print prosthetics at a cheaper price. They provide cheap replacement parts when machines break down. 3D printing like many other technologies has its bright side and its dark side.
Human Resource Ethicist
I have used Design Thinking for HR to help design better onboarding experiences for new hires. The same principles can be used to design better learning experiences. Designing a better candidate experience can be a great differentiator for any employer. Each of these design choices comes with its own set of ethical implications.With the increase in the use of technology in Human Resources, there is an urgent need to have specialists who are trained to examine the ethics of design and technology. Employers have installed software that tracks keystrokes of employees. It lets them know if the employee is slacking off. Employee Network Analysis is being used by employers to identify dissenting employees; it is an ethical dilemma that HR must respond to. Employers have been known to stifle voices of employees who raise uncomfortable questions about governance, conflict of interest etc.
HR Roles for the Future
In January 2016, I had written about six roles for HR we will see in future. Talent Sherpas, I thought, will be experts in employer branding and will have a powerful presence in all the talent communities. Developing an employer branding strategy is an integral part of most forward looking businesses.As freelance workers and gig workers become an increasingly greater proportion of the workforce, businesses are learning to create different kinds of hiring, evaluation and work practices for employees. Amazon needs to hire, retain and motivate cloud storage experts for its Amazon Web Services, creative people for its Prime Video service and people who have managed grocery delivery. The employment contracts are going to get more complex and will need someone who knows employment law.As the nature of work changes, there is a need for a talent pool that may be different from those that have been hired in the past. One-size-fits-all approach to HR worked well when everyone worked from an office. Work from home will soon give way to work from anywhere. A hybrid model of the work is currently emerging. HR has to lead the shift. HR will have to be back to the drawing board to design many processes and policies.Having an HR Design Ethicist may be a good idea to get started. That may be the new designation to have in the HR team.