What you need to know
- Offensive comments were made during a LinkedIn virtual town hall by anonymous people.
- LinkedIn's CEO says the "offensive comments reinforced the very hard work we still have to do."
- LinkedIn will not allow anonymous questions in similar meetings in the future.
During a virtual town hall by LinkedIn on racism, anonymous people shared rude and hurtful comments (via The Daily Beast). Ryan Roslansky, CEO, LinkedIn, spoke on the comments in a post this week and what LinkedIn will do to limit similar incidents in the future.
The racist comments were initially reported by The Daily Beast and later confirmed by The Verge. One employee wrote, "Blacks kill blacks at 50 times the rate that whites kill blacks." Another states, "Usually it is the result of gang violence in the inner city. Where is the outcry?" Another comment reads, "As a non-minority, all this talk makes me feel like I am supposed to feel guilty of my skin color. I feel like I should let someone less qualified fill my position. Is that ok? It appears that I am a prisoner of my birth. This is not what Martin Luther King Jr would have wanted for anyone."
Roslansky said in his post discussing the town hall, "Unfortunately, a small number of offensive comments reinforced the very hard work we still have to do." His post primarily consists of an email that he sent to all LinkedIn employees today. Roslansky states in the post:
Those of us in presenter mode weren't able to track the comments in real time - I am very sorry and that won't happen again. Also, we offered the ability to ask questions anonymously with the intention of creating a safe space for all. Unfortunately, that made it possible to add offensive comments without accountability. We require members on our platform to have real identities and we will not allow anonymous questions in all hands meetings in the future. I said it in the Company Group yesterday, and I will say it again, we are not and will not be a company or platform where racism or hateful speech is allowed.
He adds that in the future, the company will take regional differences into consideration for similar events, based on feedback they received. He also states that "Many of you shared the hardest part was realizing that this company we love and hold to such a high standard still has a lot of work to do to educate ourselves and our colleagues on how to create a culture that is truly anti-racist. We will do that work."
In response to the comments, one employee told The Verge, "It's no surprise that there are racist people at a company that's 48 percent white," adding, "But the point that was most troubling for me was that this was an event in response to the protests, co-sponsored by our black employee resource group. So for them to insert those comments here was so insensitive."
This week, Microsoft as a whole has made an effort to amplify black voices. LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, made an effort to discuss racism through this town hall, which unfortunately had hateful comments from some people.