IBM Apologizes for Racially-Insensitive Terms on Its Job Application Website

February 27, 2019, 12:38 AM UTC

IBM issued an apology on Tuesday for including racially-insensitive terms on a pulldown menu on the company’s job application website. The terms came to light after a prospective job applicant shared a video on Twitter that listed several racially insensitive terms he could choose from to identify himself.

Rich Park was shocked by the list of terms he saw when he opened the drop-down tab on IBM’s job application page, so he took a video and tweeted at IBM.

“Aren’t these ethnic group labels a little antiquated?” he asked.

The list also included: “Not a Brazil National,” and “Not a South African National,” which also seemed out of place, considering the job Park was applying for was in the United States.

In a statement to Fortune, Edward Barbini, IBM’s vice president of corporate communications, apologized and said the recruiting websites “had temporarily and inappropriately solicited information concerning job applicant ethnicity, based on local government requirements in Brazil and South Africa.”

Barbini said the questions were removed as soon as IBM became aware of the issue.

“IBM hiring is based on skills and qualifications,” he said. “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 recruiting website has since restored the designations accepted in the United States, including options to choose “unknown” or “not indicated.”