SixFoisSept’s core values and our ethical approach.
We’re more than just your average IT services firm!
Appreciating data’s true worth!
We need to stop thinking about the digital world exclusively in terms of technological innovations and disruptive tech. When its true worth is recognized, data can embody strong ethical values and transparency, as well as serving the public interest.
Our lives are now largely directed by data. From stock market orders performed by robots to automated medical diagnosis and the allocation of undergraduate places through the Parcoursup online admissions platform, algorithms are taking more and more decisions for us. We hope that this is ultimately a good thing. This ‘middle-man’ approach nonetheless begs questions relating to the transparency and ethics of these algorithms and on the value we place on data.
In itself, data possesses value in many different ways. To begin with, it has intrinsic value. Once it’s been cleaned, qualified and enriched, this data will improve existing processes or create innovative services. These new services will, for example, improve the customer experience, better identify weak spots in relation to customer retention or improve a hospital’s patient care. As a result, data must be processed in an unbiased fashion so as not to skew the results derived from it.
Ethics and data are inextricably linked. By introducing the principle of ‘privacy by design’, GDPR offers a guarantee that personal data protection safeguards are built into products and services from the earliest stage of development. Some even want to move onto the next stage, which is ‘ethics by design’.
There are many misconceptions and fears that swirl around the idea of artificial intelligence. Concepts of model transparency and explainability should counteract the impact of ‘black box’ AI and win over users’ trust. At SixFoisSept, we often say that if you torture data, it will end up telling you any old rubbish.
Conversely, an algorithm with optimized parameter settings may be less biased than a human being. A recruitment manager introduces conscious biases – for example, by favouring a particular university or experience in specific fields – as well as subconscious biases into the process. This stance leads them to eliminate more ‘unusual’ applicants who could nonetheless have turned out to be perfect for the job.
Data science – helping tackle the challenges faced by future generations
Lastly, data may be able to serve the public interest. The goal of the ‘data for good’ movement is to leverage data to resolve social, societal, environmental and health issues. We have talked about discrimination in the recruitment process, but data science can participate in many battles, including gender equality, the struggle against cancer and the ecological transition.
An IT services company which is responsible for supporting business clients on Artificial Intelligence projects must take all these things into account. Naturally, there are expectations with regard to technical expertise, but that’s not all. An IT services company must also be capable of giving sound advice in these areas. As the signatory of a code of conduct, SixFoisSept is committed to turning down any contract that contravenes its core values.
The Hippocratic oath encapsulates ideas of integrity, fairness, transparency and accountability. At SixFoisSept, we are convinced that what makes us stand out also makes us better.
An IT services company that is ethical and driven by humanist values will be seen as a more attractive destination. The young recruits of generations Y and Z want their work to be meaningful. You only have to look at the success of corporate volunteering and the number of young graduates who are joining Civic Tech, Happy Tech or Tech for Good start-ups instead of accepting financially lucrative offers from more commercially-minded operations. We are convinced that placing ethics at the heart of our corporate values will help us to recruit – and retain – gifted individuals with real potential. Above and beyond the question of competencies, our innate desire to find meaning and a vocation into which we can throw ourselves, body and soul, will naturally enable us to make improvements to how we do our jobs, as well as serving as a constant reminder to stay true to our ethical, humanistic core identity.
We believe it is possible to create IT services firms which can be both profitable and act as standard bearers for these people-centred values. The two are in no way incompatible. At SixFoisSept, our goal is to show how this can be done!