Technology

Pinterest settles shareholder lawsuit over workplace culture

Pinterest on Wednesday settled a shareholder lawsuit alleging that top executives enabled a culture of discrimination.

Financial details of the settlement between Pinterest, a popular social media platform for sharing images, and the shareholder, the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, were not shared publicly. As part of the agreement, the company is releasing former employees from nondisclosure agreements in cases of racial or gender-based discrimination.

Pinterest, which is based in San Francisco, is also committing $50 million to a series of reforms to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across the company, which was founded in 2008, and its product.

“We pushed for these sweeping reforms to support Pinterest’s employees with a fair and safe workplace, and to strengthen the company’s brand and performance by ensuring that the values of inclusiveness are made central to Pinterest’s identity,” Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who acted on behalf of the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, said in a statement.

The reform, based on claims by Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, was first announced in June 2020 with allegations of racism and racism. unlikely people in the company. A black woman, Ozoma, who helped manage public and social policy on Pinterest, said the white-collar partner helped post her personal information in right-wing forums called doxxing, so she has already advised the company to add warning cases. From Ben Shapiro, a political commentator he described as a “supporter of white supremacy.”

Banks, a black Japanese man who led public and social policy at Pinterest’s Washington office, said his boss had lied to him about his wage negotiations and made derogatory remarks about his gender. All the women claimed to have the same employment status as their boss, a white man, but with a very low income.

Two months after their statement, former CEO Françoise Brougher sued Pinterest, saying she had been given gender feedback and was paid less than her male colleagues. He said he was fired when he spoke to Ben Silbermann, his deputy and chief executive, about his complaints. According to the New York Times, Brougher settled with the company for $ 22.5 million.

After the allegations became public, the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island sued the company, saying executives had breached their fiduciary duty by “perpetrating or knowingly ignoring the long-standing and systemic culture of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest,” according to the complaint.

Now, Pinterest has agreed to create an office of an ombudsman to respond to employee complaints. It also says it will conduct a pay equity audit across gender and race twice a year and “take any steps necessary to maintain this equity,” according to the settlement.

The company is updating its acceptable use policy to ban doxxing, and it has created a formal process to escalate complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation involving members of the executive team or the board.

Pinterest’s commitment not to enforce nondisclosure agreements reflects work that Ozoma has done in California with a new law called the Silenced No More Act. Since she left Pinterest, she has been lobbying legislators to pass Senate Bill 331, which would protect employees who speak out about harassment and discrimination, even if they have signed nondisclosure agreements. The Silenced No More Act, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Oct. 7, will go into effect Jan. 1.

“This is incredible for former and current employees, and it’s what I’ve been fighting for since the bill was introduced in February, in regards to releasing former employees from nondisclosure agreements,” Ozoma said in an interview.

Pinterest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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