The website asked applicants if they were "yellow" or "mulatto."
IBM was in hot water this week and for a good reason. It was recently revealed by The Washington Post that the company's online job application featured racially insensitive suggestions when it came to applicants choosing their ethnic background from a dropdown menu. Richard Park broke the story when he tweeted out a video clip that showed options such as "yellow," "coloured," and "mulatto," leaving many feeling as if the company may be capable of unfair hiring practices.
The Hill reached out to IBM to get their take on the controversy. The company told the news source that the questions regarding ethnic backgrounds are a "local requirement" in Brazil and South Africa. However, The Post reported that those aforementioned options were listed for an internship in the United States. IBM spokesperson Edward Barbini issued an official statement to The Hill, apologizing on behalf of the company.
“Those questions were removed immediately when we became aware of the issue and we apologize,” Barbini said. “IBM hiring is based on skills and qualifications. We do not use race or ethnicity in the hiring process and any responses we received to those questions will be deleted. IBM has long rejected all forms of racial discrimination and we are taking appropriate steps to make sure this does not happen again.”
The apology followed an exchange that Park had with IBM on Twitter. ".@ibm applied for a job on your career site. Aren’t these ethnic group labels a little antiquated?" Park tweeted. "To make matters worse, I couldn’t submit my application w/o selecting an option. I ended up selecting 'Yellow' and 'Coloured.'"
IBM responded by writing, "Hi Rich. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The insensitive language, which resulted from an auto translation, has been removed from the Brazil recruiting website," IBM Jobs tweeted. They continued on to say, "Some of our recruiting websites have been translated incorrectly, and we apologize. We have removed the insensitive language and are reviewing all sites to ensure there are no further issues."