On Wednesday, LinkedIn hosted a town hall about racial justice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. The forum was supposed to be an opportunity for employees to come together and discuss how they could support one another. Instead, the conversation turned suddenly hostile, as people used the video chat’s anonymous commenting feature to defend racist sentiments and question the efficacy of the protests. The comments were first reported by The Daily Beast.
“Blacks kill blacks at 50 times the rate that whites kill blacks,” wrote one employee. “Usually it is the result of gang violence in the inner city. Where is the outcry?” Another employee said, “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.”
The meeting, hosted on the videoconferencing platform BlueJeans, was called “Standing together.” It was meant to give LinkedIn’s global workforce the chance to discuss inclusion and ally ship. Rosanna Durruthy, the company’s vice president of diversity, spoke with a panel of employees about their experiences with prejudice and discussed how their coworkers could be better allies.
On Thursday, CEO Ryan Roslansky sent out a note to staff addressing the “pain and frustration they felt at appalling comments shared in the Q&A.” He then shared the note publicly on LinkedIn. Roslansky acknowledged that allowing employees to share comments anonymously had been a mistake, and said the company would not allow this to happen again. He added, “we are not and will not be a company or platform where racism or hateful speech is allowed.”