LinkedIn changes global policy amid affirmative job posting outrage in Brazil

The company had been notified by authorities over the removal of postings exclusive to black and indigenous professionals.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Professional networking website LinkedIn has changed its global policy for job postings after being widely criticized in Brazil over the removal of affirmative vacancies advertised on the platform.

Announced on Tuesday (29), the policy change follows the exclusion of a job opening by the Center for the Analysis of Freedom and Authoritarianism (Laut). In the job posting, the Brazilian organization expressed that preference would be given to black and indigenous candidates in the selection process. 

After the job vacancy was removed -- on the basis that LinkedIn's policy prohibits discrimination in job postings based on characteristics such as age, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation -- the platform received a barrage of criticisms from its Brazilian users and had to provide explanations to the authorities.

"We have updated our global job posting policy to allow publication of publications that express a preference for professionals from historically disadvantaged groups in hiring in countries where this practice is considered legal," the company said in a press statement.

"In Brazil, affirmative vacancies are now allowed, including [job postings] for black and indigenous people. We appreciate the feedback we have received from our community in Brazil. Doing the right thing is important, and we are committed to continuing to learn and improve," the company added. The same message was published by Milton Beck, country manager for the company in Brazil, on his LinkedIn profile.

As well as pressure from civil society, organizations publicly expressing outrage over the platform's previous job posting policy included Avon and The Body Shop owner Natura & Co. The cosmetics giant was later joined by dozens of major Brazilian and international companies in a public manifest against the practices of the Microsoft-owned company.

LinkedIn's practice of removing affirmative job vacancies -- which had been taking place before the Laut case and even prompted the suspension of some LinkedIn users who insisted on posting the jobs -- also prompted Brazilian authorities to act upon the issue.

The company was notified by the Public Prosecution Office (MPF) on the basis that the platform's decision contradicts the efforts based on the Federal Constitution, which supports the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups through affirmative action.

A deadline of 10 working days was given on March 25 by Brazil's Public Prosecution Office for LinkedIn to explain the rules informing the removal of the Laut vacancy. In addition, the organization that had the job removed was also asked to provide additional information about the job posting.

LinkedIn was also notified by consumer protection agency Procon-SP, who requested the professional networking website to clarify the job posting process, how the platform informed advertisers about specific policies, and how posters are informed when job postings are excluded.

In an interview with Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the Brazil country manager at LinkedIn said changing the firm's global policy was "an evolutionary process" and that it was not a simple move. 

"We recognize that [the policy change] is an important step to allow disadvantaged groups to have greater inclusion in the labor market, but it is a process that involves a greater level of complexity," Beck noted.

Commenting on the fact that some affirmative job postings remained available on the platform while others were deleted, Beck told O Estado de São Paulo the company's system is based on algorithms and artificial intelligence as well as human checks, which explains the inconsistencies. He added that LinkedIn will address this with the policy changes, but said companies that had affirmative vacancies removed would need to re-post them.

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