Appen recruitment skin colour assessment

May 2021
Updated: December 2021

A tweet by a digital media strategist reveals Australian AI company Appen is asking potential employees to describe their skin tone during the online recruitment process.

Applying for a role in the US, Charné Graham was asked to select her complexion, from light to brown to black having ticked a box saying she is 'Black or African American'. Her tweet recounting the experience went viral.

Appen, which employs over a million contractors labeling photographs, text and other data, later apologised, claiming it was only an 'optional question' that is being used 'to ensure diverse datasets' and to 'take the bias out of AI'.

Operator: Appen
Developer: Appen
Country: USA; Australia
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Determine skin colour
Technology: Computer vision
Issue: Bias/discrimination - race; Employment - diversity
Opacity: Purpose