‘Sexist’ LinkedIn comment sparks fierce debate

by Nicola Middlemiss14 Sep 2015
LinkedIn has found itself at the centre of a sexism-in-the-workplace storm this week after one user publicly shared an inappropriate message she’d received online.

UK-based barrister Charlotte Proudman added solicitor Alexander Cater-Silk as a contact and in response, he sent what seems to be the most hotly-debated message of the year.

“Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture!!!” he wrote.

“You definitely win the prize for best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen,” Cater-Silk continued. “Always interest [sic] to understand people’s skills and how we might work together,” he added, before signing off.

Proudman, outraged, responded to the message – slamming it as “unacceptable and misogynistic.” She then shared the interaction on Twitter. 

As the story went viral, a wave of online vitriol followed – for both Carter-Silk and Proudman.

While some have heralded Proudman’s decision to expose everyday sexism in the workplace, many have chosen instead to target 27-year-old – branding her a “Feminazi” and insisting she has committed “career suicide.”

Franklin Sinclair, a partner at one of the UK’s largest law firms, has publicly stated that he would not give work to Proudman, purely as a result of the furore.

“It’s because of her lack of judgment and her breach of confidence,” he told the Guardian. “If a member of my staff had done it, I would be furious about how that reflects on the firm.”

Offended Proudman has also been outed as a hypocrite – it’s been revealed that she too is guilty of a lecherous comment or two.

It emerged that the award-winning human rights barrister has commented on pictures of men on Facebook – on the profile of a postgraduate student at Cambridge, where Miss Proudman is on sabbatical from her chambers to study for a PhD, she wrote: ‘Hot stuff!’, while under an image of a long-haired male friend, she wrote: ‘oooo lalala!’
She also told female friends they looked ‘sexy’ and ‘stunning’ – the same word used by Carter-Silk.
“There is clearly sexism in all walks of life and all professions that affects both men and women,” added Sinclair.  
“I had a gentleman who saw me today who said he had to sit separately from the women he works with because of how crude and sexual their conversations are; he feels intimidated. It’s not right either way, and in the workplace it’s unlawful.”
Fifty-seven-year-old Carter-Silk has spoken out in defence of his original message, saying; “Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on LinkedIn; my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on LinkedIn, which was unfortunately misinterpreted.”

The married father-of-two has received criticism online but little as scathing as the comments made against Proudman. 


  • by HR Manager 1/08/2016 2:54:22 PM

    having had several responses of this kind I decided to cancel my LinkedIn membership. I had to wait for it to expire and during that time the number decreased and I decided that I would just ignore these type of people.
    My major issue was that they were mainly from overseas males, I mean why would a major in the army or a Mayor in America and some other equally not LinkedIn type people be contacting me an HR Manager in Australia. No reason work wise that's for sure and this seemed to go on for some time. As I said after time it decreased probably because I didn't answer any of them which tells me they all come from one room in Nigeria where this seems to emanate from. I understand they hit dating sites looking for lonely and got thrown off there. Therefore I don't think the lady was wrong in taking offence. It does however sound like a legitimate business however it would put you off rather than make you want to do business with that company. I also should say I am not a 25 yr old, lending itself to more suspicion maybe I should have added the words 'not wealthy' somewhere.

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