Algorithms at Work (HR425)

Algorithms have become a popular, yet controversial, tool in the workplace and are used across the employment lifecycle for everything from scanning piles of resumes to find the perfect candidate, to predicting employee performance, to calculating the optimal retirement date to maximize retiree income. This short, immersive course will help you understand how algorithms work and how you can effectively use them as a decision-support tool in your place of work. You will also examine the ethical and legal questions that are becoming more prevalent as the use of algorithms expands. You do not need prior statistical training to be successful in this courses.


Program Overview

The Impact of Algorithms on the Future of Work: Understanding the New Frontier of HR

  • HR uses of algorithms
  • Influences of big data on HR decision making
  • Machine learning - benefits and risks that come with the removal of human decision-making

Algorithms in Action: Understanding the Factors that Drive the Algorithm

  • Breaking down the "black box" - What are the variables your vendor/product is screening?
  • Negotiating the algorithm - What flexibility do you have in defining variables? How do you choose a vendor or product?
  • Case study on hiring - Example of how to effectively leverage algorithms to win the battle for talent. Expansion of this concept to employee life-cycle management.

Mitigating the Risk: Understanding the Legal/Ethical Implications Involved and Protecting Your Organization From Legal Risk

  • Exploring legal and ethical issues
  • Ensuring compliance and minimize risk
  • Applying audit techniques 

Who Should Attend

Human Resource Leaders - Understand how algorithms impact the future of HR decision making

Employment Legal Counsel - Learn to advise your organization on how to mitigate risk of big data and algorithms

Analytics Professionals - Explore links between HR and legal implications


M. Elizabeth Karns

Liz Karns
Senior Lecturer

Liz Karns is an epidemiologist and lawyer. Her research interests involve worker health and safety, ethical responsibilities in the conduct data analysis, and the economic consequences of sexual assault and harassment. Her practice has ranged from individual juvenile clients large multi-national corporations. She is interested in fostering an intellectual environment for students that integrates science, law, and societal needs.

Martin Wells

Director of Research The Charles A. Alexander Professor of Statistical Sciences Chairperson of the Department of Social Statistics

Dr. Wells teaches statistical methodology to undergraduate and graduate students in fields such as agriculture, biology, epidemiology, finance, law, medicine, nutrition, social science, and veterinary medicine as well as graduate courses in statistics.

Ifeoma Ajunwa

Ifeoma Ajunwa
Assistant Professor

Professor Ajunwa is an Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behavior Department of Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School. She earned her PhD in Sociology from Columbia University. Her doctoral work received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Immediately prior to her positon at Cornell ILR School, she was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University (where she remains a Faculty Associate) and served as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard Law School.

Professor Ajunwa researches the organizational behavior of organizations, particularly in relation to stigma/social evaluation, diversity, and the adoption of new technologies. Other related research interests include labor and employment law, as well as, business and society concerns. Professor Ajunwa’s research has been published or is under review in both law review and peer reviewed journals, including the California Law Review, the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Northwestern Law Review, Organization Science, the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, Research in the Sociology of Work, etc. Her research has been mentioned in major media outlets such as, the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Nature Biotechnology, etc. Professor Ajunwa has served as a keynote speaker or panelist at international conferences such as SXSW and has presented her work before governmental agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the CFPB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC).

Please visit her personal website for an updated list of published research articles and op-eds, as well as, media mentions. Her forthcoming book, “The Quantified Worker” will be published by Cambridge University Press.


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