As protesting continues across the country with thousands of people fighting for Black lives and an end to police brutality following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, it appears a select few employees at LinkedIn missed the memo.
The professional networking site held an internal town hall virtual meeting last week to address the protests and movements taking place in the country and open the discussion to their employees to reflect on their own racial biases. "We’ll spend most of our time together in open discussion, so please consider bringing questions or experiences you’d like to share,” read the email invitation that staff received. The meeting was held via video chat where staffers were able to leave anonymous comments during the dialogue.
What followed was a "dumpster fire" of a conversation on racial issues.
"Blacks kill blacks at 50 times the rate that whites kill blacks," one commenter said during the forum. "Usually it is the result of gang violence in the inner city. Where is the outcry?”
Another decided to equate Floyd's death with a white man who was murdered at the hands of the police as well.
"This tragic incident that happened to George Floyd happened exactly the same to Tony Timpa (white man) by Dallas cops in 2016, and no one seemed to care then,” another employee wrote. "There was no outcry for justice in his case. Why? Should we not want justice for all?”
Another commentator stated: "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."
A dumpster fire, indeed.
Following non-white staffers voicing their outrage about the blatantly racist and ill-informed comments that some of their white coworkers made, the CEO of LinkedIn Ryan Roslansky wrote in an email to staff that was also posted on the site apologizing.
"I have also heard people share the pain and frustration they felt at appalling comments shared in the Q&A and chat, and so it's important that I weigh in directly," Roslansky wrote in the address. "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."
He continued, "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."
Roslansky then pledged to enact initiatives in LinkedIn to spearhead inclusion and equity both internally and externally.