People in underrepresented groups are often disenfranchised and devalued during moments of economic and societal transition. New research from Charter suggests that the same risk is present in this moment of widespread workplace AI adoption, particularly for women, workers of color, and those over 55—and that it doesn’t have to be that way.
The research—based in part on a survey of workers and managers—shows striking differences in the usage of AI tools and concerns about their implications for jobs across gender, racial/ethnic, and age groups. It also points to clear best practices for organizations that want to center workers amid the technological change. Among them: involving workers in determining how AI tools are used, clearly communicating about how they might impact work, and asking workers how they want to be trained.
At a high level, we found insufficient attention currently paid to what workers know about how AI could improve work quality and performance, and to how they want to be involved and supported. Survey responses suggest that employees will be much more enthusiastic and engaged with the changes if they have some voice in how they’re planned and rolled out.
Here are highlights from Charter’s new research playbook, Using AI in ways that enhance worker dignity and inclusion, which was produced with support and funding from the Innovation Resource Center for Human Resources:
Black workers are more worried about job precarity.
Over half of Black respondents express concern about AI replacing them in their jobs in the next five years (53%), 14 percentage points higher than for white respondents (39%). At the same time:
- Black workers and managers are more likely to already be using generative AI tools in their jobs compared to white colleagues (45% vs. 37%).
- Looking ahead, they are more likely to be enthusiastic about the prospect of using generative AI as part of their day-to-day work (61% vs. 51%). This simultaneous adoption and excitement, coupled with fears about job loss, suggests that it is especially important for employers to involve workers in AI planning, communication, and learning and development (see the playbook for advice on how to do this effectively).
Women are less likely to be using generative AI, and they’re more concerned about their jobs.
Women respondents are less likely than male respondents to be using generative AI tools in their jobs currently (35% vs. 48%). People who have not used generative AI tools to date are much more likely to be women.
Personal and professional use, as well as enthusiasm about using AI as part of daily work, drops off starkly with age.
Workers and managers 18 to 44 are much more likely than their 55+ colleagues to have used generative AI in their work to date. Personal experimentation also decreases greatly with age. This suggests a confidence gap that leaders might address with additional encouragement and support for older workers as they put these tools into practice in their jobs.
Here are some of the recommendations you can find in the playbook:
Download the full playbook for case studies and the full detailed frameworks for adopting AI in ways that put workers at the center. The research playbook is based on a survey of 1,173 individual contributors and managers across three sectors—manufacturing, service, and knowledge work—conducted in partnership with the research platform Glimpse. It also contains guidance from practitioners, labor economists, research scientists, and organizers about what’s known and unknown about AI in modern workplaces, including lessons from past technological transformations.
You can contact us at email@example.com to talk about how to adapt your organization to the changing world of AI.