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LinkedIn's Racism


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Stories dropped late last week by The Daily Beast, The Verge, Business Insider, CEO letter and other LinkedIn posts are providing the following story...

New LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky took the helm last Monday and by Thursday LinkedIn's racist employees were climbing out of their holes. On Thursday LinkedIn held a virtual global town hall to address the nationwide social unrest sparked by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

Mourners were welcomed with peer employee comments like:

“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.”

I'm sure those individuals were fired on the spot... Right... Ummm, well, uh no... LinkedIn allowed anonymous comments so racist idiots could throw verbal Molotov cocktails and fan the flames.

In a public follow-up letter to employees on LinkedIn Roslansky writes:

"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."

This forum was obviously not a safe space.

LinkedIn's culture problems are bigger than just a few people, it's baked right in their own dammed recipe. Check this out, LinkedIn released a report last year showing just 3.5% of its workforce was Black and with the Black representation of the US workforce hovering just over 12.5% you start to understand the landscape a tad better. Simply, if you are not hiring diversity into your ranks what signal does that send to the employees? To you customers and users?

Personally I believe LinkedIn had an opportunity to change this culture when Jeff Weiner stepped down as CEO. They could have easily found a person of color with the chops for the position. Ryan Roslansky was an SVP at Linked for 11+ years prior and I'm sure qualified for the position, but companies need to be stepping away from the good-ole-boy c-suites and actually demonstrating that diversity isn't a cliché, it's human, necessary, and demands execution with real outcomes.

Let's be honest, this is a microcosm of America today. Companies have lavish diversity statements, but it's only cosmetic. Message to LinkedIn, it you want to be a part of the solution, stop being a part of the problem. 3.5% is a big fucking problem.

Needless to say, Joel and I will talk in-depth about that very topic on this Friday's show.

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