Politics

A year after blockbuster accusations and lawsuits, Pinterest says it's 'committed to doing better'

Pinterest believes "every employee should feel safe."

Pinterest board on a computer

Pinterest's latest diversity report comes about a year after the company faced a wave of discrimination allegations.

Photo: Szabo Viktor/Unsplash

Pinterest has spent much of the last year on the defensive in light of a number of discrimination allegations and lawsuits. In its latest diversity report, Pinterest said it's committed to improving its culture and "doing better."

Pinterest's workforce follows a familiar pattern. Although women make up 49% of Pinterest's global workforce, they represent 30% of its leadership team, up from 25% in 2019, and 29% of its global engineering team, also up from 25% in 2019.

"The initiatives we have put in place are showing progress," Marie Andel, Pinterest's chief human resources officer, told Protocol via email. "I believe that our employees are our experts and they are helping to change the lived experience at Pinterest. This work is critical."

Andel said she's most proud about the increase in female leadership numbers and "the work that has been done to introduce increased compensation range and level transparency."

Pinterest, however, remains largely a white company. Since last year, representation of Black employees at Pinterest increased slightly, from 4% to 5%, Latinx representation increased from 6% to 7%, Asian representation remained at 44% and the representation of Indigenous employees and those who identify with two or more races both remained at 1%.

Pinterest also pointed to its two new Black board members. In August, Pinterest announced its first Black board member, Andrea Wishom. The company added a second Black board member, Salaam Coleman Smith, in October.

Pinterest does not share retention numbers, but Andel said Pinterest's "commitment to building a more inclusive company continues." She also mentioned Pinterest has formed an Inclusion Advisory Council, an independent group to help hold the company accountable to its goals.

By 2025, Pinterest aims to increase women in leadership roles to 36% and increase representation of Black, Latinx and Indigenous employees to 20%.

The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the increased discussion awareness of racial injustice in the U.S. in the past year, "pushed us to have important conversations internally and reinforced that we need to be deliberate about our own culture," Andel said.

"We listened to employees as they shared their experiences and we are committed to doing better," she said. "We believe every employee should feel safe, championed and empowered to raise any concerns about their work experience and have new systems in place to allow this."

Pinterest is also launching an ombuds program, which will provide a neutral third party for employees to have confidential discussions with about workplace conflicts.

A rocky year

Although Pinterest's numbers show progress in DEI, numbers infamously do not tell the whole story.

Last June, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, who are both Black women, alleged racial and gender discrimination at Pinterest. Then, in August, former Pinterest COO Françoise Brougher sued the company alleging gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Pinterest employees staged a virtual walkout in the days following Brougher's lawsuit. Employees also circulated a petition seeking more transparency around promotion levels, retention and total compensation packages.

Pinterest later agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle the lawsuit. That hefty sum sparked conversations about the different outcomes for Brougher, a white woman, compared to Ozoma and Banks. While Brougher walked away with a $20 million payout, with the rest going to charity, Ozoma and Banks previously told me they received less than one year's worth of severance.

"It's about as plain a case of disparate treatment and discrimination as you can come up with," Ozoma said at the time.

Banks added, "This follows the time-honored tradition in America where Black women come forward, blazing a trail, revealing injustice and white women coming in and reaping all the benefits of that."

Ozoma's experience at Pinterest motivated her to co-author the Silenced No More Act, which aims to ban non-disclosure agreements that restrict workers from speaking out about racial discrimination and other forms of abuse. Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann in April threw Pinterest's support behind the bill, adding at the time that Pinterest will no longer require employees to sign NDAs that would prevent them from talking about their personal experiences at Pinterest once they leave.

The policy, however, does not apply retroactively, and Pinterest will not release former employees from pre-existing NDAs. "I'm not on the legal team but what I can say is that if we have a completed contract with a former employee we wouldn't go back and amend it," Andel said.

Entertainment

Beat Saber, Bored Apes and more: What to do this weekend

Don't know what to do this weekend? We've got you covered.

Images: Ross Belot/Flickr; IGBD; BAYC

This week we’re listening to “Harvest Moon” on repeat; burning some calories playing Beat Saber; and learning all about the artist behind the goofy ape pics that everyone (including Gwyneth Paltrow?) is talking about.

Neil Young: Off Spotify? No problem.

Neil Young removed his music from Spotify this week, but countless recordings are still available on YouTube, including this 1971 video of him performing “Heart of Gold” in front of a live studio audience, complete with some charming impromptu banter. And while you’re there, scroll down and read a few of the top-rated comments. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

'Archive 81': Not based on a book, but on a podcast!

Netflix’s latest hit show is a supernatural mystery horror mini-series, and I have to admit that I was on the fence about it many times, in part because the plot just often didn’t add up. But then the main character, Dan the film buff and archivist, would put on his gloves, get in the zone, and meticulously restore a severely damaged, decades old video tape, and proceed to look for some meaning beyond the images. That ritual, and the sentiment that we produce, consume and collect media for something more than meets the eye, ultimately saved the show, despite some shortcomings.

'Secrets of Sulphur Springs': Season 2 is out now

If you’re looking for a mystery that's a little more family-friendly, give this show about a haunted hotel, time travel, and kids growing up in a world that their parents don’t fully understand a try. Season 2 dropped on Disney+ this month, and it not only includes a lot more time travel mysteries, but even uses the show’s time machine to tackle subjects as serious as reparations.

The artist behind those Bored Apes

Remember how NFTs are supposed to generate royalties with every resale, and thus support artists better than any of their existing revenue streams? Seneca, the artist who was instrumental in creating those iconic apes for the Bored Ape Yacht Club, wasn’t able to share details about her compensation in this Rolling Stone profile, but it sure sounds like she is not getting her fair share.

Beat Saber: Update incoming

Years later, Beat Saber remains my favorite VR game, which is why I was very excited to see a teaser video for cascading blocks, which could be arriving any day now. Time to bust out the Quest for some practice time this weekend!

Correction: Story has been updated to correct the spelling of Gwyneth Paltrow's name. This story was updated Jan. 28, 2022.


Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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