Amidst the Black Lives Matter protests and the civil and social unrest here in the United States following the death of George Floyd at the knees of a white police officer in Minnesota, Microsoft has chosen to use its platforms to amplify the African American voice. Some LinkedIn employees, though, apparently think very differently.
With the virtual town hall intended as a way to discuss the events occurring in the United States, and "sharing questions of experiences," select LinkedIn employees apparently hijacked the meeting. Using the anonymous chat feature of the town hall, some employees left comments that mentioned black gang violence, no one caring for white people, and more.
“Blacks kill blacks at 50 times the rate that whites kill blacks. Usually, it is the result of gang violence in the inner city. Where is the outcry," said one of the anonymous commentators. “This tragic incident that happened to George Floyd happened exactly the same to Tony Timpa [who is a white man] by Dallas cops in 2016, and no one seemed to care then," said another.
The Verge states it was able to independently able to verify these comments, but naturally, the comments did lead to outrage. A LinkedIn employee told The Daily Beast they were told to not share details with anyone outside the company. Other employees tell The Verge that the comments undermined the conversation intended for the town hall. Their comment is below.
“It’s no surprise that there are racist people at a company that’s 48 percent white. 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"
In a statement, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky called out the racist comments as "appalling" and "offensive" and mentioned that the anonymous comments allowed employees to "add offensive comments without accountability.” He added:
"By raising voices, democratizing access to learning and jobs, and tackling the systems of economic injustice, we can and will make meaningful change. For any of this to happen, we have to start with our culture and commit to working through hard things together. We have to anchor on our values, including having open, honest and constructive conversations and respecting that relationships matter.”
As for Microsoft's own employees, many have been calling on the company to suspend its relations and contracts with law enforcement agencies. The company continues to point to its Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, which invests in partnerships that are focused on reforming policing.