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LinkedIn CEO apologizes after an internal meeting about racial inequality and bias was hit with 'appalling' comments from anonymous employees

Ryan Roslansky
  • LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky apologized on Thursday after employees anonymously made "appalling" comments criticising the company's efforts to diversify its workforce during a global town hall meeting to discuss racial inequity and biases earlier this week. 
  • Roslansky, who only started as CEO of the Microsoft-owned social network on Monday, apologized for allowing the comments."We are not and will not be a company or platform where racism or hateful speech is allowed," he said.
  • Other LinkedIn staffers were outraged, according to the Daily Beast, and called the comments "disturbing and racist."
  • The company will no longer allow anonymous comments at such meetings. LinkedIn declined to comment beyond Roslansky's public email to employees.
  • LinkedIn released a report last year showing just 3.5 percent of its workforce was Black.
  • Do you work at Microsoft? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email (astewart@businessinsider.com).
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
LinkedIn's new CEO apologized to employees after the company allowed a meeting to address protests across the United States over police brutality and systemic racism prompted by the death of George Floyd to be taken over by "appalling," anonymous employee comments.
"We are not and will not be a company or platform where racism or hateful speech is allowed," he said.
Ryan Roslansky replaced Jeff Weiner as LinkedIn's CEO on Monday. On Wednesday, LinkedIn held a town hall meeting to discuss racial inequality and biases. During the meeting, first reported by the Daily Beast, staffers criticised the protests and LinkedIn's efforts to diversity its workforce by posting anonymous messages into the event's chat window.
"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," one anonymous staffer commented, per the Daily Beast. "I believe giving any racial group privilege over others in a zero sum game would not get any support by others. Any thoughts on hurting others while giving privileges with the rosy name called diversity?" another reportedly said.
Other LinkedIn staffers were outraged, according to the Daily Beast, and called the comments "disturbing and racist."
Roslansky said in his LinkedIn post that the comments evaded notice during the event because "those of us in presenter mode weren't able to track the comments in real time." The company will not allow anonymous comments at such events in the future, he said.
LinkedIn released a report last year showing just 3.5 percent of its workforce was Black, compared to 47.5 percent white, 40.3 percent Asian, and 5.9 percent Latino. Just 1 percent of the company's leadership was Black at the time. Rosanna Durruthy, LinkedIn's vice president of global diversity, inclusion, and belonging, at the time said hiring a diverse workforce was the company's No. 1 "talent priority."
"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," Roslansky said. "We will do that work."
LinkedIn declined to comment beyond the contents of Roslansky's post.
Are you a Microsoft employee? Contact this reporter via email at astewart@businessinsider.com, message her on Twitter @ashannstew, or send her a secure message through Signal at 425-344-8242.
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