Is your organization aware of what its employees are saying in email in real time? If not, should it be?
In a word, yes.
Unintentional missteps are bound to occur in anyone’s email communications. But some employees have a shocking disregard for decency and professionalism. Not knowing what’s being said makes the risks associated with managing employee communication a real problem. How big a problem? One that can lead to significant legal, reputational, and financial consequences.
The financial sector provides stark examples of how costly discriminatory remarks can be. Goldman Sachs this year paid $215 million to settle a class-action gender bias lawsuit with 2,800 female plaintiffs, CBS News reported. Recent allegations about sexual harassment and misogyny at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) uncovered by the Wall Street Journal have sparked a Congressional investigation. Citigroup was recently levied $26 million in fines and restitution for discrimination targeting Armenian-American credit card applicants, with some of the evidence found in company emails.
The world of law is not immune. A scandal involving senior attorneys at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm erupted this spring, after it was discovered that they’d engaged in blatantly racist and sexist communications about their colleagues and clients in company email, according to the New York Post. This included: "Tell him that he’s the reason why most people hate Jews,” “What’s this f*ggot’s problem?” and “She hates being called Barbs” … “But loves ‘Babs’ and ‘Sugar T*ts”.
Even law enforcement communications pose risk management issues for city governments. Documents obtained by Alphy from a federal and state investigation into police in the Northern California city of Antioch revealed this year that two dozen officers, detectives, and supervisors sent messages to each other that used the “n” word to describe local residents; called other residents “faggots;” bragged about beating their suspects; and labeled people as “gorillas,” “monkeys,” and “water buffalo” while trading photos of animals to illustrate their points. The police department is now the subject of several lawsuits and a state and federal investigation, according to published reports.
Enter a cutting-edge solution: Reflect AI for smarter risk management.
Reflect AI is designed to preemptively identify discriminatory and other problematic language in digital communication. As an add-on for desktop email, it works in real-time, flagging and detecting problems before they escalate into full-scale legal battles.
One of the most valuable aspects of Reflect AI is its ability to allow risk managers to be proactive in their approach. By detecting harmful language (racist, sexist, ageist, and more) as well as unlawful language (around employment-related issues), it helps organizations intervene early and address the behavior.
For example, statements like “We really like that candidate, but isn’t he gay?” or “We need fresh blood — pass on him, he’s past his prime,” or “She’s great for the role but will probably start making noises about wanting to have a family soon,” can be instantly flagged. This immediate detection is crucial in preventing such attitudes from influencing decision-making and fostering a discriminatory workplace culture. Reflect AI may also help reduce the risk of litigation by preventing statements like these from being sent (and becoming evidence in lawsuits).
The recent extension of Reflect AI’s capabilities to detect certain types of unethical language further underscores its importance — especially for the financial sector, the consulting world, and other industries with competitive cultures and substantial financial stakes.
As companies thrive, so do their employees. By honing their communication skills with the aid of Reflect AI, employees contribute to a culture of mutual respect among colleagues — a crucial element in any career. Reflect AI is tailored to identify specific types of problematic language, ensuring that it doesn't intrude on every aspect of employee communication. This approach is not only about safeguarding the company but also about protecting the job security and work environment of every team member. After all, legal and financial repercussions from communication missteps can have indirect yet significant impacts on all employees. By mitigating miscommunication risks, Reflect AI shields both the organization and its employees.
Financier Warren Buffett famously said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” To flip that statement around: If you lack understanding or awareness about what you're engaged in, you're more likely to make mistakes. These mistakes often arise from not being able to foresee potential problems or not knowing how to handle unexpected issues.
Let Reflect AI be your guide. In a world where communication is rapid and often unfiltered, having a system that can preemptively identify and mitigate risks associated with problematic language is invaluable. Empowering your organization to be proactive rather than reactive isn’t just a moral imperative. Our AI for smarter risk management is a strategic advantage in today's business landscape.
Carolyne Zinko is the editorial director and AI editor at Alphy.