Sexist LinkedIn comment sparks fierce debate

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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. 

  • Kelly on 2015-09-11 9:05:16 AM

    I've had this happen to me before but I've just ignored the sender. I personally didn't find it offensive and thought that must be quite the picture I have!

    I think "outing" the sender the way Proudman did was taking this too far. It speaks to social media in general and how people over use it for quick satisfaction.

  • Bonnie Reid on 2015-09-11 10:01:22 AM

    social media and life lessons of the inexperienced; seems she brands all men who gives a complement as sexist...too bad, as this has ruptured a potential work contact and she ends up getting her own label at the end of the day. Perhaps apolgies for misunderstandings are in order???

  • Lynda Smith on 2015-09-11 2:45:30 PM

    I hardly think that comment was sexist.

    "Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex:
    sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women"

    "A polite expression of praise or admiration"

    Talk about blowing it out of proportion.

  • Marie on 2015-09-14 8:59:43 AM

    I agree with the above comments; the statements made by Carter-Silk are not sexist, in my opinion he's just complimenting a professionally-looking picture. He even recognizes it's politically incorrect to make the remark.
    It's funny that Proudman says, "another woman (half your age)..." - so she uses ageism to counter sexism?! Age doesn't matter if she wants others to only look at her skills...

  • Ielean Tait on 2015-09-14 11:32:30 AM

    I agree, much ado about nothing, it was a compliment, take it at face value.

  • Marsha Goldford on 2015-09-11 12:13:17 PM

    Wow...much ado about nothing. I think people learn to accept compliments at face value.

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