C-suite perspectives: As leaders embark on preparing their workforces for using AI, ethical guidelines and policies guide their decisions

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Public Relations

The AI trend of 2023 was reckless productivity—businesses were so eager to boost output that many rushed to deployment with little knowledge of how they would put the tech to work for them. Despite cries for responsible use, many were willing to take some big risks in order to not fall behind the fast-moving trend. But new Deloitte research suggests that negligent mindset may be ebbing—among executives surveyed, publishing clear policies and guidelines was ranked the most effective method of communicating AI ethics to the workforce, followed by workshops and trainings.

The firm’s new study, Preparing the Workforce for Ethical, Responsible, and Trustworthy AI: C-Suite Perspectives, which outlines corporate priorities and actions to harness AI’s benefits while maintaining trust and equitable outcomes, also shows that C-level execs associate the highest importance of ethical guidelines for emerging tech with revenue growth (55 percent), followed by brand reputation and marketplace trust (47 percent).

ethical AI guidelines

The study from Deloitte’s Technology Trust Ethics practice surveyed 100 C-level executives to understand how their organizations develop ethical AI principles, and how they inform and educate their workforces about AI ethics.

“At every step, the creation or use of emerging technologies like AI present an opportunity to ensure we’re positively advancing a more equitable and prosperous world,” said Kwasi Mitchell, chief purpose and DEI officer at Deloitte US, in a news release. “Organizations certainly play a critical role in the responsible adoption and implementation of AI, and I’m encouraged by the inputs we’re seeing from C-level leaders to prioritize ethical awareness, training and use so we can collectively produce better outcomes for our businesses and people as a result.”

ethical AI guidelines

Additional key findings include:

Among C-level executives surveyed, 86 percent say their organizations have either implemented ethics policies and guidelines or are about to do so

Almost half of respondents (49 percent) report their organizations currently have guidelines or policies in place regarding the ethical use of AI, and another 37 percent said they are nearly ready to roll policies out.

Boards of directors are involved in creating AI ethics policies as often as ethics officers

Respondents indicated that boards of directors (52 percent) and chief ethics officers (52 percent) are always involved in creating policies and guidelines for the ethical use of AI.  

Organizations are reskilling and making corporate acquisitions to prepare their labor force for AI

Enterprises are actively training and upskilling their workforces (45 percent), acquiring organizations with AI capabilities and skills (45 percent) and hiring for AI (44 percent) to prepare their employees for the integration of AI—and roughly an additional 40 percent say they are close to ready to do the same.

Ethics researchers and specialists are sought out more than ethics officers

More executives surveyed said their organizations are currently hiring or planning to hire for positions including AI ethics researchers (53 percent), compliance specialists (53 percent), and technology policy analysts (51 percent) than C-suite roles such as a chief ethics officer (38 percent) or chief trust officer (36 percent).

ethical AI guidelines

“As organizations increase their use of AI, the survey indicates that the C-suite is highly aware of the need to provide comprehensive ethics trainings in tandem to prepare their labor force,” said Beena Ammanath, US technology trust ethics leader at Deloitte LLP, in the release. “Companies’ concurrent strategies—upskilling their own employees, hiring for new roles and even acquiring companies that have existing AI capabilities—demonstrate they recognize the immense possibility that only the human element can generate from AI.”

Download the full report here.

For the study, Deloitte surveyed 100 executives and was conducted online by an independent research company between Jan. 17 and 22, 2024. Respondents represented C-level, president, board member and partner/owner roles at companies in the U.S.

The survey is a follow-up to Deloitte’s State of Ethics and Trust in Technology annual report that assessed if and how ethical standards are being applied to emerging technology.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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