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.
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