PHOTO: Part of Pinterest's headquarters in San Francisco's SoMa area (2019) SOURCE: Wikipedia.

On Wednesday, Pinterest released the findings of an investigation on company culture and promised to overhaul its harassment policy. The announcement came two days after the company agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit from its former chief operating officer Françoise Brougher.

For the report, the company partnered with law firm WilmerHale, which spoke with 350 current and former Pinterest employees during a five-month investigation.

Pinterest’s board has unanimously voted to adopt the recommendations.

The report suggests a sharpened focus on recruiting and retaining a diverse, inclusive, and “cohesive workplace culture,” listening and learning from employee experiences, and providing more transparency around requirements for promotions and raises.

Other recommendations include implementing more consistency regarding disciplinary actions and establishing a task force to follow up on complaints. Pinterest will also mandate unconscious bias training for all employees and reward efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.

“Pinterest is fully committed to making the changes recommended by the Special Committee of the Board,” a company rep told The Verge.

“We value our employees and know it’s our responsibility to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for everyone at Pinterest.”



The $22.5 million awarded to Ms. Brougher represents the largest publicly-announced individual settlement for gender discrimination, according to the New York Times (NYT).

But Ms. Brougher isn’t the first Pinterest employee to sound the alarm about the company’s practices.

In June, former employees  Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks went public with their on-the-job experiences of racism and gender discrimination.

A September report by The Verge paints a scathing picture of the organization’s inner workings, complete with toxic management and a seemingly unsupportive HR department.

Ms. Brougher sued Pinterest for gender discrimination in San Francisco Superior Court in August.


Ms. Brougher was hired in 2018 as Pinterest’s chief operating officer, responsible for the organization’s revenue and overseeing roughly half of the company’s 2,000 employees.

Despite her high rank, she says she was excluded from critical meetings and punished for speaking up.

In an August 2020 blog post titled “The Pinterest Paradox: Cupcakes and Toxicity,” she chronicles her ordeal and calls out Pinterest Co-Founder and CEO Ben Silbermann. 

“Ben appeared to listen to only a few people and sealed himself off from opposing viewpoints,” Ms. Brougher writes.

“Ben’s ‘in-group,’ the men invited to the “meeting after the meeting,” held all the power and influence. This structure was detrimental to Pinterest’s culture, velocity, and results.”

She also found out that she was paid less than her male colleagues. That was eventually rectified by HR, but only after she presented them with a spreadsheet “illustrating the inequity.”

“There is a reason that women do not negotiate as hard as men for higher pay. It is not because we are not good negotiators. As I would learn at Pinterest, it is because we get punished when we do,” she writes.


Days after the blog post was published, Pinterest employees staged a virtual walkout in support of Brougher, Ozoma, and Shimizu Banks.

Next came the shareholder lawsuits, filed by the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island and alleging Silbermann, alongside Co-founder Evan Sharp, CFO Todd Morgenfeld, and the Pinterest board “personally engaged in, facilitated or knowingly ignored the discrimination and retaliation against those who spoke up and challenged the Company’s White, male leadership clique.”

In response, Pinterest launched the investigation detailed above and appointed Andrea Wishom and Salaam Coleman Smith — two Black, female media executives — to its board of directors.

Speaking to NYT, Ms. Brougher says she is “encouraged” by Pinterest’s moves to improve company culture — but adds it will need to more than appoint new directors. The company will also need to listen to them, she says.

“What happened to me at Pinterest reflects a pattern of discrimination and exclusion that many female executives experience, not only in the tech industry but throughout corporate America,” she wrote in her blog post.

“…Pinterest’s flaws exist in many organizations. I hope that by sharing my story, I can contribute to dismantling the system of gender bias that persists despite the progress made exposing misconduct within companies like Pinterest. It is time to eliminate the “boys clubs” that dominate far too many companies and make room for more women leaders and their ideas.”

Support we rep stem

Support We Rep STEM and help us create more rad content. That includes recruting and compensating contributors, because we believe everyone should be paid for their work.