afaqs! news bureau

Pinterest employees stage virtual walkout, demand for racial and gender equality

The website is under hot water after its former COO and two employees alleged racial and gender discrimination online.

For many people, tired from the rut of daily life and stresses of modern-day workplaces, Pinterest has become a tech utopia; one where they can escape into their neatly curated pins (collection of images) of home decor, wardrobes and clothes, manicured lawns and gardens, personal computers, and whatever you can think of. Unfortunately, the same feeling of goodness doesn't extend to the company's female employees.

Last week, Pinterest employees logged off their computers to stage a virtual walkout to protest against racial and gender inequality that's enveloped the tech company.

In a lengthy blog post, “The Pinterest Paradox: Cupcakes and Toxicity,” Françoise Brougher, the company's former COO accused the company of sex discrimination. She wrote in the blog, "Although 70 percent of Pinterest’s users are women, the company is steered by men with little input from female executives. Pinterest’s female executives, even at the highest levels, are marginalized, excluded, and silenced. I know because until my firing in April, I was Pinterest’s chief operating officer."

Brougher alleges that Pinterest fired her not for the results she achieved, but for not being “collaborative.” She wrote, "I believe that I was fired for speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny that permeates Pinterest."

She also tweeted in support of the walkout, “Feeling empowered and grateful by all of the voices joining together on this issue! I stand in solidarity with the Pinterest employees participating in today’s walkout. When we speak out, we create change!”

One has to go back to June when two former Pinterest employees Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks revealed their experiences with the company on Twitter.

Ozoma claimed, "As a Black woman, seeing @Pinterest’s middle of the night “Black employees matter” statement made me scratch my head after I just fought for over a full year to be paid and leveled fairly…"

Banks, in her tweets, alleged, “My manager made disparaging comments about my ethnicity in front of my team, and later about another woman colleague’s Jewish heritage in relation to those earlier comments. It was wild. When I reported this to HR, their response was that even though he had made those statements, he had no “ill intent” and therefore not violated @pinterest’s code of conduct. And this is when the retaliation began. Sadly, many women of color were complicit in this retaliation.”

Right now, there are two petitions gaining strength online. One is asking Pinterest to pay its black employees what it owes them. The second petition is directed towards CEO Ben Silbermann to put an end to all forms of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest.