RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – An executive for IBM issued an apology to media outlets on Monday and Tuesday after reports emerged that an online application form used terms “yellow” and “mulatto” when asking for an applicant’s ethnicity.
“Our recruiting websites temporarily and inappropriately solicited information concerning job applicant ethnicity,” Edward Barbini, IBM’s vice president of external relations, told The Register in the UK on Monday night.
“Those questions were removed immediately when we became aware of the issue and we apologize. 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.”
Big Blue also sent the apology via email to The Washington Post, which also reported the story.
The Register first reported the story, citing information posted on Twitter from a person seeking employment with IBM in the US.
“Naturally, I was shocked to see this on an application from what I generally consider to be a respected and top technology company,” said the job hopeful. The Register chose not to identify him.
“It made me feel as though there are biases and prejudices that exist, that may go unchecked or unnoticed, that may even be directly contrary to what the company as a whole tries to present as their values and image. Also, the fact that it is 2019, and to see something like this, blows my mind,” the Register quoted him as saying.
The gaff was not good news for IBM.
“It’s not a great look for Big Blue, which is striving to appear hip and woke to attract younger and more diverse talent, while fending off lawsuits accusing it of discrimination,” The Register noted.
“Former IBM cloud sales ace Jonathan Langley sued the company for age discrimination last year, as did award-winning IBMer Terry Keebaugh earlier this year, joining other legal action lodged against the biz. IBM denies any wrongdoing in all cases.”
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