Pinterest, an online bookmarking site that allows users to create virtual pinboards, has been under scrutiny for its treatment of gender and race since the summer, after two Black female former public policy officials, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, alleged that they had been underpaid, faced racist comments and were subject to retaliation for raising those issues.
Pinterest did not admit to liability as part of the settlement, according to Pinterest’s global head of communications, LeMia Jenkins. Brougher and her attorneys will receive $20 million, and Brougher and Pinterest will jointly donate $2.5 million to organizations advancing women and underrepresented communities in tech.
“Pinterest recognizes the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture,” Pinterest and Brougher said in a joint statement to The Washington Post. “Françoise welcomes the meaningful steps Pinterest has taken to improve its workplace environment and is encouraged that Pinterest is committed to building a culture that allows all employees to feel included and supported.”
The New York Times, which first reported the settlement, said the money will be donated by the end of the year.
In interviews with The Post, Ozoma, Banks and five other women who formerly worked at Pinterest alleged that the company was a den of discrimination, where female employees were ousted without warning and members of chief executive Ben Silbermann’s inner circle evaded consequences despite repeated complaints. Both Ozoma and Banks said they were assigned lower levels on Pinterest’s internal hierarchy for doing the same work as their manager, which deprived them of stock options they believe are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In late November, Pinterest shareholders sued Silbermann and other top executives for enabling race and gender discrimination, citing the experiences of Ozoma, Banks and confidential witnesses who worked at Pinterest. The lawsuit, filed by the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, which oversees $8.5 billion in public assets, claims Pinterest’s legal department was complicit in facilitating a toxic work environment.
In a statement about the shareholder lawsuit, Jenkins, Pinterest’s global head of communications, said, “Pinterest’s leadership and Board take their fiduciary duties seriously and are committed to continuing our efforts to help ensure that Pinterest is a place where all of our employees feel included and supported.”