Like every other company, 2020 has tested us in ways we never anticipated. I’ve seen our employees, members and customers show incredible resilience and adaptability, managing through a global pandemic and economic crisis, and confronting systemic racism head on. As the ways we live and work have been upended, and as we work around the world to set new professional norms and expectations, we’ve seen more people taking to our platform to share views, opinions, ideas and experiences.
As we’ve navigated the dynamics around us and on LinkedIn, we’ve stayed anchored on our vision, to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. We know that our members expect LinkedIn to stay grounded in our professional context and to keep interactions on our platform safe, trusted and professional.
We also recognize the unique role we play in the world at this time, to connect people with the skills, jobs, and opportunities they need at a massive scale. And we know that to be successful, we have to create opportunities equitably, together with our community and customers. We believe that with the right tools and commitments, companies globally – as the engines of economic empowerment, wealth creation, and professional mobility – can take the lead in dismantling historic barriers to equal opportunity and equitable outcomes.
We’ve been moving to protect the interactions on our platform and ensure equity is built into every part of how we operate, serve our communities, and engage our customers, and I want to lay out where we’ve been focusing. There is much more to come and we’ll keep providing updates.
Building Diversity & Inclusion into How We Operate
We know that to be the example we want to be to other companies, we have to hold ourselves to the highest standard in how we operate. We have codified in our company values our expectation that every LinkedIn employee embodies Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in every day-to-day interaction and decision made at the company. We recognize that this is a journey, and we know we have work to do ourselves, but we are deeply committed, investing in inclusive hiring and retention practices we know work, training every manager at the company to be an inclusive leader, and holding all of ourselves accountable with documented commitments.
Developing Systems to Spot, Measure and Address Inequality on the Platform
At LinkedIn, we believe people with equal talent should have access to equal opportunity. The unfortunate reality is systemic inequality exists in the real world. It exists in who gets access to opportunity and who doesn’t, and that inequality makes its way from the real world onto online platforms. We will tirelessly continue to use our platform to close the network gap and with Microsoft, as part of our global skills initiative, we’ll continue to tackle inequality head on as we help millions of professionals use LinkedIn to connect to opportunity. Among prioritized initiatives is a cross-company project to eliminate bias on the platform and ensure our products work equally for all members, building measurement systems to understand the impact of our products on under-represented groups. This work will ensure we can support our members and customers who are striving to build more inclusive workforces in their organizations.
Keeping Conversations Safe, Trusted and Professional
We are seeing an increase in conversations on LinkedIn, including an increase in discussions about diversity, race and discrimination in the workplace. Many of these have been constructive, with individual members and leaders of companies sharing what they’ve experienced, actions they are taking as individuals and organizations, and how they are using their platform to advocate for racial justice. A recent example includes Jon Fortt sharing how he brought a primetime story on the Black experience in corporate america to life.
We do believe constructive conversations about the realities and challenges we all need to overcome will move us collectively forward, but we also have clear guidelines for those conversations on our platform. We value freedom of expression, but context matters. To realize our vision of creating economic opportunity, LinkedIn is not a platform for all speech, but is a platform for safe and trusted speech, in a professional context.
Recently, we have seen an increase in sharing of content that violates our Professional Community Policies and we are taking action to address it. We’ve removed over 20,000 pieces of content for being hateful, harassing, inflammatory, or extremely violent in the last six months (March-August 2020). And we are committed to becoming more transparent with members around when and why we remove content they share. In some regions, we now notify members when their content is restricted, why, and provide a clear path to appeal the decision. This new experience is starting to roll out in the U.S. and will be available globally in the coming weeks. We won’t always get it right; when we don’t, we’ll do a second review, take responsibility for our mistake and reinstate content.
We’ve also heard questions about removal or restriction of posts about racial equity. Let me be clear: we are not censoring content on these important topics and have not made any changes to our algorithms targeted at these posts. In fact, we’ve put explicit efforts in place to protect posts tagged #blacklivesmatter from being flagged unfairly. We’re committed to all voices on LinkedIn that abide by our Professional Community Policies being treated equally and having equal potential for reach.
Amplifying Black Voices
We understand the critical role we play in amplifying Black voices on LinkedIn. We’ve created a “Black Voices to Follow and Amplify” section in your “My Network” tab. This is just a start, but it’s working, with this section helping add nearly 2 million followers to those who have been featured, including Chef JJ Johnson, Chef-Founder of FIELDTRIP, and Christal Jackson, Founder of Mosaic Genius, since it was launched. We are working to expand this section and regularly adding more members.
You’ll also continue to see Black voices and perspectives highlighted across our platform. Whether that’s the LinkedIn News’ coverage of the strike by professional athletes across the U.S. in the wake of the Kenosha, Wisc. shooting of Jacob Blake or the LinkedIn Live conversation led by BBC and United Nations on creative diversity on International Diversity Day in May. And we continue seeing companies and individuals committing their support, including this post by Carla Harris on behalf of Morgan Stanley’s Black Managing Directors. Just last week, we hosted a LinkedIn Live conversation between Netflix VP of Inclusion Strategy, Vernā Myers, and LinkedIn VP of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Rosanna Durruthy, where they shared learnings about actions LinkedIn members can take to be an ally in professional life. With our focus on education, we’ve also made LinkedIn Learning courses on allyship and anti-racism available for free. It’s heartening that when looking at our most popular courses in August, Stacey Gordon’s Unconscious Bias and Vernā Myers’ Confronting Bias: Thriving Across Our Differences are both in the top ten. Since June, we’ve seen learners engage with the courses in our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging learning path nearly four times more (295%), when comparing June-August with March-May.
Eliminating bias in our technology
We are deepening our investments in rooting out any bias in our products or underlying systems. Project Every Member and the LinkedIn Fairness Toolkit (LiFT) help ensure that we build equality into all of our products. And we have open sourced our code and methodology to help other organizations do the same and provide transparency on our efforts. Internally, we’re in the process of removing common industry language with racist origins in our software and documentation to make our technical language more inclusive, and will share our approach to help others.
We stand for technology as a force for good and are fully committed to creating a more equitable future. We plan to continue building transparency into our systems and policies to keep the platform safe and inclusive, and will keep you updated as we release new tools, products and policies. And we will continue to share what we learn and build with other companies, to magnify our collective impact.
As the world’s professional community, I believe we can come together to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, equitably. We’re committed to doing our part to build safe, trusted, and equitable products, and will continue to depend on all of you in our community to help create the professional environment we all expect and deserve. And as always, we welcome those passionate about helping us to realize our vision to check out our open roles.