SVP and CHRO
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
SVP and CHRO
Veolia North America
Senior Vice President Human Resources
SEVP, Chief People Officer
Vice President of Human Resources
Open access to generative AI tools has brought on the next wave of business disruption, and Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) are upskilling themselves to take on this new challenge. On paper, there are many opportunities for using generative AI within the HR function and across the business, but there are also subsequent risks and roadblocks to initiating company-wide processes.
With so many unknowns, Evanta’s CHRO communities have been eager to learn how their peers are thinking about and addressing generative AI at their organizations - to the extent that it was the theme of our Community Pulse Survey this summer. Here, over 250 HR leaders shared their plans for generative AI and outlook for the future.
77% of CHROs have a positive outlook on generative AI and its impact on the future of business
Evanta’s CHRO communities have also been asking to connect with their peers on this topic, and recently HR leaders in the Philadelphia Community came together for a town hall entitled, “AI is Here — How Should HR Leaders Respond?” During the session, CHROs discussed AI’s potential impact on HR and the workforce and the ethical implications of AI in HR technology.
CHROs’ Thoughts on Generative AI
To level-set the topic, HR leaders participated in a live survey about AI. Here are a few of the results:
- CHROs were first asked if they think their organization is acting fast enough to keep up with the pace of technological change, and a staggering 84% said no. One CHRO shared that it is not that they don’t have a strategy or a plan, but legacy systems often hold them back. They added, “We know where we need to go, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You need patience.” In addition, the CHRO said that upskilling and managing costs is part of the challenge.
- When asked about how confident they feel about their AI literacy, almost half of participants (46%) are only slightly confident, and no one feels very confident. One CHRO described why they feel this way, saying, “There is a lot out there and many ways to use AI. It’s constantly changing, and it’s hard to keep up.”
- Participants also shared their biggest concerns for AI, with security and bias dominating the results. Some CHROs also mentioned misinformation, resources, cost and uncertainty. One HR leader noted, “Where is your source information coming from? What goes in comes out. That's the bias our legal team is worried about.” Another added, “There is some fear from my team with how many jobs this might replace and what this means for the culture. While they are excited, there are some nerves.”
- CHROs were asked if and where AI is embedded in their business, and there were some mixed results. Thirty percent said they are using it for recruiting and 18% said learning and development. Almost 30% said they are not using AI yet, and one CHRO mentioned that they are looking to vendors to clarify how they are using generative AI first.
- For areas they are exploring next, “chatbots” was the top response with 22% of the votes. Job descriptions or interview questions and enhancements to existing technology tied for second, both receiving 14% of the vote. One CHRO added that they are experimenting in an area that was not listed in the survey, and they are looking to use generative AI to identify where skills are within the organization.
Key Takeaways from the Discussion
The participants broke into small groups to have guided conversations with their peers on generative AI. Facilitating the discussions were community members Kelly Jones, SVP and CHRO at Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; Luis Franco, SVP and CHRO at Veolia North America; Kelli Walsh, Senior Vice President Human Resources at D&H Distributing; Claire Borelli, SEVP, Chief People Officer at TIAA; Kristie Pappal, Vice President of Human Resources at the Philadelphia Eagles; and Kate Blumenthal, CHRO at Pep Boys.
These are some of the key takeaways:
- Everyone is in an evaluating stage. Many participants shared they are treading lightly and waiting to see what the information shows. One CHRO said, “I agree. I don't know enough and don't want to be the guinea pig.” Another shared, “Risk has a lot of weight right now. There are a lot of opportunities, especially for talent acquisition, but when will the risk be acceptable enough to explore more use cases. It’s a balance.”
- CHROs stressed they need to educate themselves on AI and learn what their peers are doing. One CHRO remarked, “Everything is AI right now, but the skillset to know what ‘generative AI’ is versus ‘AI’ is not there.” Another HR leader commented, “Vendors are all talking about AI, but until everyone’s skill level is on par, things will still be unclear.” Another added, “When we talk about AI, it's important to understand the spectrum from basic machine learning through to generative AI.”
- New opportunities for generative AI were uncovered. There are many concerns about bias, especially for recruiting, but one CHRO noted that there is a flip side to this, and AI can be used to remove internal bias from the process. Another shared that it has been useful for idea generation, getting “unstuck” and tightening messaging - although there still must be a human component. Another HR leader is seeing the benefits of generative AI for much-needed validation in their decision making.
For more information on how HR leaders are tackling generative AI, view the complete results of our CHRO Community Pulse Survey here.
To connect with like-minded CHROs and discuss the mission critical priorities impacting human resources leaders today, such as generative AI, apply to join your local CHRO community, and take a look at the calendar to see when your community is gathering next.
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