Brianna was searching job ads. She came across one only hiring white people.

*Brianna is an accomplished TV presenter here in Australia and overseas.

She has the necessary experience, charisma and professionalism for most TV presenter roles advertised on various employer-seeking platforms.

Last week, she came across a job advertisement on StarNow that she knew she would be a strong candidate for.

The company who advertised the position was seeking a female presenter for a smart home exhibition. The main job was for the presenter to appear in videos to explain the functions of various products and smart home systems, with candidates expected to have relevant work experience in television commercials.

Feeling confident and self assured, Brianna went to apply for the role — only to see that there was one major issue in the job description. Under the list of requirements, read: "Ethnicity: White / European Descent."

Brianna is a Black woman.

Watch: Kristin Davis cries over her adopted children's experience with racism. Post continues below.

Video via Red Table Talk.

"I was shocked. I thought it was illegal. It's not like this job was for a film where they were needing to hire an actor, it was for a TV presenter — anyone can do the job. It's a job I can do," Brianna tells Mamamia.

"I decided to email the company and obviously no one got back to me. It is kind of gut-wrenching because you think it's 2024 and these things surely shouldn't happen anymore. Why would a Black person or someone from another ethnicity not be suitable for the job compared with applicants who are white? It's baffling to me how this is okay."

Sadly, this isn't the first time Brianna has seen a job ad similar to this, explicitly excluding people of colour from applying.

"I've been trying to get into the industry for quite some time here in Australia, after working often in London and LA. Before the Black Lives Matter movement, you would see even more examples of job ads like these popping up."

Brianna can't say whether fellow Black colleagues of hers in Australia have endured similar situations- mostly because there are so few people of colour in TV and presenting roles here.

"I go to the UK and turn on the TV and there's a myriad of faces, all different colours and ethnicities. You turn on the TV here and it's predominantly white, even though Australia is such a multicultural country. I feel sad for my kids as well, who are mixed, they are rarely represented on TV. There's more diversity in commercials, but it's just not filtering through for the mainstream channels and their presenters," notes Brianna.


"If there is a person of colour on the TV in some sort of presenting role, they're more likely to experience some kind of backlash or double standard. I've been trolled because of my colour. It's a lot."

The job ad in question. Image: Star Now.

This isn't the only sort of discrimination people of colour are facing in the job market.


A recent study from Monash University confirmed that English sounding names get more call backs from job applications compared with ethnic names. 

Prabha Nandagopal was a senior legal adviser on the Australian Human Rights Commission Respect@Work report and is the founder of Elevating Consulting Partners. She has worked with women employees across Australia who face sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment.

When Prabha first came across this job ad, she too was less than impressed.

"Thankfully you don't often see this kind of explicit racial discrimination in job advertisements, though it does sometimes exist. It's unlawful in Australia to publish a job that discriminates against a person on the basis of what's called personal characteristics. So race, for example, colour or ethnic origin, are part of that," Prabha explains to Mamamia

We've seen this happen before. In 2018, Optus faced criticism after a job ad of theirs asked for 'Anglo Saxon' employees. The telco company apologised for the "completely unacceptable" situation, and launched an internal investigation as a result. 

There can be an exemption if an employer can demonstrate that it's a genuine requirement of a job. For example, if a job ad is for an Aboriginal support worker who exclusively provides domestic violence services for First Nations women. The organisation would then demonstrate why an Indigenous person would be the best fit for that role and make an argument around cultural sensitivity and understanding being an inherent requirement. 


But for this particular TV presenter role - Prabha from a legal perspective sees zero reason why the company is requiring someone with white skin only.

"You need to be focusing on the skills and experiences abilities of the role, not personal characteristics. It is unlawful," she says.

"You can make a complaint about it. This can be done either by raising with the company advertising the position if you're comfortable, or by making a complaint to the relevant anti discrimination body in your state or territory, or the Australian Human Rights Commission. This type of racial discrimination in job ads is not only unacceptable, it's unlawful."

As Brianna notes: "I love what I do and I'm good at it. I'd love to do more of it, and I'm trying to find the opportunities but they just aren't there."

There's an intense mental load too with being constantly disheartened and let down by the industry you love.

"The job ad gave me the impression that this company thinks a white person can do the job better than any other ethnicity. It's disgusting. I can't believe we're still having this conversation."

*Brianna has changed her name for privacy reasons. Her identity is known to Mamamia. 

Feature Image: Getty/StarNow/Canva.