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LinkedIn employees made 'offensive comments' during anti-racism meeting

They were shared during a company Q&A that allowed people to ask questions anonymously.

Some LinkedIn employees spoke out against anti-racism efforts.
Sarah Tew/CNET

A 9,000-employee video call intended to address racial barriers and promote diverse hiring at LinkedIn was disrupted by "offensive comments," Ryan Roslanksy, the CEO of the professional network, said Thursday, acknowledging that the virtual company town hall held earlier in the week had gone awry.

The global event was convened Wednesday, following nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police. More than 3,500 comments were posted and 200 questions were asked during the meeting, Roslansky said in an online post.

LinkedIn allowed participants to ask questions anonymously, Roslansky said, in order to create a safe space for all. However, some people used the anonymity to make offensive comments without accountability. 

"Unfortunately, a small number of offensive comments reinforced the very hard work we still have to do," Roslansky wrote. "I have also heard people share the pain and frustration they felt at appalling comments shared in the Q&A and chat."

Roslanksy said he couldn't see the comments while moderating the event because he was in presenter mode. He said LinkedIn won't enable anonymous questions in the future.

According to The Daily Beast, some of the offensive questions included "How can hiring more minorities into manager roles and C-suite positions address cop racism?" Another person who self-identified as "non-majority" reportedly said, "all this talk makes me feel like I am supposed to feel guilty of my skin color."

LinkedIn didn't comment on the accuracy of the reported remarks.