Ongoing struggle on sexism and harassment on LinkedIn

by Jan 11, 2022

Sexism and Harassment on LinkedIn

With the constant posts and complaints about sexism and harassment on LinkedIn, you would have thought action would be taken.

 

You would have thought by now that with the constant posts and complaints on LinkedIn about sexism, harassment, and inappropriate or creepy advances that LinkedIn would have done something about it. Sadly this does not seem to be the case. Or at least nothing stated publicly.

sexism and harassment on LinkedIn

Not fit for purpose

Given that there are now over 700 million members, the organisation does not seem to have the necessary protocols in place to take adequate action for this type of behaviour. The platform still relies on self-policing, blocking, and reporting. This means the responsibility is transferred to the women, in much the same way as we are told not to jog on our own or walk-in certain areas late at night.

There is no transparency on record keeping or any feedback given to the complainant. Even Twitter reports when action has been taken against a member. Most of the complaints are processed via AI and the target receives a generic response within minutes. The vocabulary might be inoffensive but the message is not.

One contact has been the target of such serious abuse her situation has been flagged up to the highest level. Her comment to me was:

 

sexism and harassment on LinkedIn

Conversation with Support

I was recently contacted by LinkedIn Help and asked if I would like a conversation on the topic. I was of course delighted to take it further. The telephone call was agreeable and the young woman was pleasant, interested, and polite. My comments are in no way a reflection on individuals, but the system.

She said she would submit my feedback into the system. This was the response I got.

 

sexism and harassment on LinkedIn

This is my reply

sexism and harassment on LinkedIn

 

Why is this struggle on sexism and harassment on LinkedIn important?

 

sexism and harassment on LinkedIn

It’s significant for all the usual reasons about women feeling psychologically safe. But just as importantly, there is a gender networking gap on LinkedIn.

43% of women are LinkedIn members compared to 57% men. Women tend to have more incomplete profiles than men frequently because they don’t want to put too much information out there. This affects their visibility which has a longer-term career impact in a number of ways.

1.  It means that they don’t appear to the same extent in keyword searches run by recruiters.

2.  They get fewer job referrals. This comment is supported by research from Payscale which suggests that “white men disproportionately win job referrals.”  This effectively excludes other groups via embedded systemic unconscious bias.

They carry on to say: “Out of 100 referred employees, 44 will tend to be white men, 22 will be white women, 18 will be men of color and 16 will be women of color, the research authors pointed out. By comparison, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, white men represent only 34 percent of the U.S. labor market, which means white men are 129 percent more likely to be in a pool of 100 referred employees than what demographics suggest they should be.”

Incomplete profiles and intersectionality

3. If you have an all-star profile – that is 100% complete  – which actually doesn’t take very much, you are 40 times more likely to be approached for speaking gigs, panel invitations etc. Completing your profile is therefore really helpful to advance a career. Many women are reluctant to do this for personal security reasons.

Layer on intersectionality: race, religion, sexual orientation and physical difference the incidences of inappropriate conduct increases, but we don’t know by how much, only anecdotally. Women share openly on all platforms including LinkedIn, every day the problems they are having in this area. Allies step in to support them to campaign on their behalf, knowing this to be the case.

Final words

It really became a discussion of attrition, wearing me down with repetition of the same canned responses on information that is available in the public domain. It was like interviewing politicians, with the information I already knew being repeated back at me.

 

I asked for information.

 

Not sure that they ever did. I was too busy to check. I think there was some BS about protecting members’ right to privacy.

 

Part of the solution or the problem?

With so much talk around psychological safety the powers that be have to decide their position on sexism and harassment on LinkedIn. Do they want to be part of the solution or part of the problem? At the moment it’s not clear where they stand. With an overall increase in cyber harassment for women, it’s important to have very clear guidelines with transparent protocols.

LinkedIn is an important and valuable resource for career enhancement and development.  We expect all social media platforms to offer security. But we do expect a professional platform to be the safest one. Many of these behaviours are rarely one offs, can be part of a pattern and can escalate. It’s about protecting other women and creating a space place for all, especially if the perpetrator, now emboldened moves off line to target women in person.

Postscript: After sharing this post on social media Hannah Mason confirmed that she reported an incident of  inappropriate behaviour on 9th January and by 11th January the profile was no longer available.  Hopefully this is the sign of a change in policy and approach.

Does your workplace take psychological safety seriously? 3Plus can help you improve with our Unconscious Bias Training Workshops. Contact us here:

 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events

Events

 

📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.

 

 

Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary

April 14th - Career Mentoring Session for Ukraine 

April 23rd - Podcast with Ross Thornley on the Future of Work at 11:00

April 26th - How to create a bias conscious workplace - Corporate Workshop

May 10th - How to manage remote teams more inclusively - Corporate Workshop

May 12th - Strategies to achieve work-life balance and stress management - Corporate Workshop

 

Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally digital world.

 

best job search

 

3Plus Online Learning Programs 

 

 

 

 

Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles

The invisible older woman

The invisible older woman

The invisible older woman reflects society’s disregard for women beyond their looks and highlights the gender gap in modern culture and a deepening of gendered ageism.

read more
Shocking Details About Child Marriages

Shocking Details About Child Marriages

Child Marriages - The shocking details   I came across shocking details about child marriages last week., every seven seconds, a girl under 15yrs old marries.    I came across shocking details about child marriages last week. Child marriage occurs in every...

read more