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Tech Company Sparks Outrage After Asking Black Woman To Select Her Skin Tone On Job Application


After losing her job during the pandemic, self-described Digital Content Specialist and Social Media Strategist Charné Graham was happy to get a lead from a recruiter on LinkedIn for a job at Australian tech firm Appen.

But it soon got weird.

As she was filling out their online job application, after she entered her ethnicity as Black, the application then asked her to describe her complexion, from "pale white" to "very dark brown to black."

Needless to say, Graham did not end up applying for that job, but did make a point of posting screenshots on Twitter and calling out the company for what she called an online "paper bag test."

Folks on Twitter did not hold back their shade.

But others had another theory.

Appen is in fact a company that specializes in machine learning and artificial intelligence, but Graham still expressed concerns, telling The Sydney Press Herald:.

"I'm aware that Appen is an artificial intelligence company but as a Black woman the question is very off putting and triggering with no clear explanation as to why you would need that information."

In a subsequent statement, Appen acknowledged their mistake.

"Our goal is to help eliminate bias and make AI that works for everyone. The optional question on skin tone is used to ensure diverse datasets are included in the collection and annotation used to train computer vision algorithms."

"We acknowledge that without an explanation up front as to why it is so important to ask some of these questions, and the way the question was presented, it missed the mark and that's on us to fix."

Good to see them at least acknowledge that even with the best of intentions, this weird drop down menu was not a good look.

At all.