Walter Geer describes himself as one of the few Black creative directors in the ad industry. An executive creative director for experience design at the marketing agency VMLY&R, Geer is also a frequent and popular poster on LinkedIn, where he discusses issues faced by Black people and other people of color in the industry.
“I do this because I’ve been thrust into this role not by choice—I’ve become a voice for people of color in advertising,” he tells Fast Company. “It’s important to me because progress doesn’t happen unless we have these conversations.”
But Geer says LinkedIn hasn’t always felt welcoming to these discussions. He and other Black users of the platform have repeatedly had issues with material they post not appearing on the site or being taken down. In one case, Geer says, a video he uploaded to the site seemed to simply disappear, although LinkedIn says it was never properly uploaded, as a result of a technical error on the company’s end.
He and other Black creatives, particularly in the ad industry, told Fast Company they see signs the platform is biased against them. They point to posts about being Black in the workforce and other racial issues that don’t post or get removed, content about race and diversity not getting the traffic they expected to receive, and cryptic messages from LinkedIn customer support representatives about their experiences. They say the platform, which since last summer’s protests after the murder of George Floyd has increasingly become home to discussions of race in the workplace, seems to be censoring discussions they consider critical to improving their professional lives and those of their colleagues.