LinkedIn implemented features that appear to let recruiters filter potential job candidates by their demographic characteristics.
Users on the professional social media network who edit the demographic information on their profiles, such as their race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and current or former military service, can let the platform use the information for “diversity in recruiting” tools, which “allow your demographic information to be used in LinkedIn recruiting features to help recruiters find a more diverse group of qualified candidates.”
The Daily Wire verified the existence of the features after screenshots posted by concerned LinkedIn users circulated on social media.
LinkedIn meanwhile updated a webpage one month ago explaining that the platform “may use your personal demographic information in recruiting features to surface qualified members that may diversify the group of candidates displayed to recruiters” who work for companies with “public commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Answers to the personal demographic questions are “never directly shared with recruiters or companies,” the webpage added, noting that users can “opt out of this use of your personal demographic information in your settings.”
Increasing the percentage of females or racial minorities in corporate workforces are goals often pursued by firms devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion, also known as DEI, as well as the environmental, social, and corporate governance movement, commonly known as ESG. Both philosophies have rapidly grown in prominence among leading firms in recent years, even as skeptics contend that they mingle political and social causes with core business objectives in a manner that compromises or distracts from profitability.
Many companies in a variety of sectors, from media and communications to pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, publicly tout diversity programs as they seek to hire applicants based partly on their race and sex. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which ranks among the world’s foremost postsecondary business programs, recently unveiled a new set of DEI concentrations for undergraduate and graduate students.
LinkedIn, which software behemoth Microsoft purchased in 2016, also leverages user demographic information for removing “unfair bias from our products,” examining data such as salary ranges and career trends for “purposes such as assessing and improving pay equality,” and providing “aggregate insights to help employers and hiring managers in their efforts to identify more diverse candidates,” according to the webpage.
“Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, and we are working hard to ensure that all members have equal access to these opportunities,” the company added. “One way to make sure people have equal access is to understand the gender, race, ethnicity, and other important demographic information of our members and then to measure whether or not all are being afforded opportunities equitably on our platform.”
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LinkedIn Talent Solutions said in an article last year that the platform created notifications when the male-to-female ratio in a given job search is unbalanced so that recruiters can “improve the gender balance” by amending skill, location, and company filters. Firms that recruit on the platform can also “highlight their values and organizational commitments” with dedicated sections of their company pages for diversity, environmental sustainability, and social impact.
LinkedIn faced backlash two years ago for a diversity training program that encouraged participants to “be less white.” The firm removed the course after employees from participating companies leaked slides from the training online.