Pinterest set out to be a bright spot in cutthroat Silicon Valley, but now stands to see its reputation forever tarnished by allegations of mistreatment and a toxic culture by women who held senior roles at the company, Axios' Ashley Gold reports.
Why it matters: Even a company known for progressive policy decisions and successfully combating hateful and otherwise problematic content isn't immune to the systemic problems that have plagued many tech companies.
Driving the news: Former Pinterest COO Françoise Brougher is suing the company for, she says, firing her in retaliation for speaking up about perceived gender bias.
- Brougher, formerly of Square and Google, learned she was paid less than male colleagues and that her equity grants were treated differently, she wrote in a Medium post Tuesday detailing her experience of being fired.
Context: Brougher's public reveal of her Pinterest saga comes after Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks left the company in May. Ozoma and Shimizu Banks, who are Black, shared in detail their experiences of racist and sexist comments from co-workers, unequal pay and pushback for speaking out.
What they're saying: "It is shocking how closely the experiences Françoise detailed compared to mine when you consider her seniority, leadership and wealth of experience," Shimizu Banks, who had been Pinterest's first Washington, D.C.-based employee as public policy and social impact manager, told Axios.
Some former employees are now calling for for Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann to step down. One former Pinterest employee told Axios reading Brougher's post was "triggering."
- "For too long, Ben has claimed to not understand what's going on at his own company," the former employee, who asked not to be named in fear of retaliation, told Axios. "The time is up for Ben Silbermann."
The other side: "We remain committed to advancing our culture to ensure that Pinterest is a place where all of our employees feel included and supported," said a Pinterest spokesperson, adding that the company is reviewing Brougher's complaint and takes "all concerns brought to our attention seriously."
Flashback: Pinterest announced at the end of June that law firm WilmerHale would conduct an independent review of its workplace culture. Lawyers from WilmerHale are working on the direction of a special committee of Pinterest's board.
The bottom line: Unlike many Silicon Valley rivals, Pinterest has been able to avoid scandal and maintain a low profile. But as more employees speak out, the company is beginning to get a taste of the public scrutiny that so many other big social networks grapple with daily.