Aug 16, 2020 - Technology

Pinterest employees stage walkout, new board member delayed

The Pinterest logo is displayed on a smartphone.
Photo illustration: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pinterest employees protested against gender and racial discrimination at the company in a virtual walkout Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Pinterest, the feel-good lifestyle curation site, has been accused of treating women and particularly women of color badly, driving them out and not living up to the company's stated values. The virtual walkout is one boiling over point of long-running anger inside the company.

What's happening: A group of displeased employees has launched a website, changeatpinterest.com, to organize the campaign calling for cultural changes among Pinterest leadership, starting with Friday's virtual walkout. More than 200 people participated in the walkout, a source close to the company told Axios.

  • Meanwhile: The company had been poised to reveal the selection of a new board member, but the announcement was postponed amid the protest, Bloomberg reported.

Details: During Friday's walkout, employees logged off their computers and posted in Slack about feelings about racial and gender discrimination at the company.

  • Internal Slack messages reviewed by Axios contain expressions of solidarity with former employees who spoke out. "I am disappointed and angry, but not surprised about the racial and gender discrimination that has happened at Pinterest," read one message.
  • Employees also said they were frustrated about the tenor of an all-company Q&A held last week after former COO Francoise Brougher published a blog post arging that she was pushed out for speaking out about the "rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny that permeates Pinterest."
  • The new website encourages fellow employees to sign an anonymous petition "demanding systemic change," which now has more than 400 signatures.

What they're saying: The three ex-employees who have come forward with their stories of gender and racial discrimination at Pinterest — Brougher and former policy officials Aerica Shimizu Banks and Ifeoma Ozoma — all expressed gratitude for the protest.

  • "Thank you, Pinterest colleagues for standing up for us internally and externally," Shimizu Banks tweeted.
  • "Feeling empowered and grateful by all of the voices joining together on this issue," Brougher tweeted.
  • "SOLIDARITY," Ozoma tweeted.

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