The Apple Card has been under fire this week after accusations that the bank behind the program, Goldman Sachs, has been discriminatory against women in its provision of credit lines. The New York Department of Financial Services opened an investigation into the claims, and now, Goldman Sachs says it will re-evaluate credit decisions for those whose lines are lower than expected.
The outcry against the Apple Card began when Basecamp founder and Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson accused the bank of sexism after he was offered twenty times the credit limit that his wife was, even though they file joint tax returns.
In response to the controversy, Goldman posted a statement on Twitter which said, in part, "We have not and never will make decisions based on factors like gender... Together with a third party, we reviewed our credit decisioning process to guard against unintended biases and outcomes."
In addition, the bank said it would re-evaluate its credit decisions if users made the request: "If you believe that your credit line does not adequately reflect your credit history because you may be in a similar situation, we want to hear from you. Based on additional information that we may request, we will re-evaluate your credit line."
Following the initial Twitter thread, Jamie Heinemeier Hansson wrote a statement explaining why she decided to make the issue public. "It matters for the woman struggling to start a business in a world that still seems to think women can't be as successful or creditworthy as men," Mrs Hansson said. "It matters to the wife trying to get out of an abusive relationship. It matters to minorities harmed by institutional biases. It matters to so many. And so it matters to me."
Goldman Sachs' response wasn't enough for Mr Hansson, however. In another thread on Twitter, he characterized the response as "patronizing" and pointed out the updates to the process that would be required to achieve fairness.
Then hear this: 1) Applicants must have full visibility of the inputs to your algorithm, 2) The weight of each input must be disclosed, 3) They must be able to correct faulty data, 4) Your reps must be able to explain the algorithm. No more damage-control PR, just results please.— DHH (@dhh) November 11, 2019
Hansson received support over the weekend from a prominent source: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who experienced a similar discrepancy in credit lines with his wife and placed the blame not only on Goldman but also on Apple for giving its name to the program.
I'm a current Apple employee and founder of the company and the same thing happened to us (10x) despite not having any separate assets or accounts. Some say the blame is on Goldman Sachs but the way Apple is attached, they should share responsibility.— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) November 10, 2019
Apple has not yet made any comment on the issue.