“The company is steered by men with little input from female executives,” Françoise Brougher alleges in a lawsuit and corresponding Mediumpost. “Pinterest’s female executives, even at the highest levels, are marginalized, excluded, and silenced.”
Brougher, who joined Pinterest as its first COO in early 2018, says she was fired this past April for speaking up about what she describes as the “rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny” within the company.
Making matters worse, Pinterest was already facing allegations of racial- and gender-based discrimination. Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, both Black women, recently detailed a number of abuses during their time spent on Pinterest’s public policy and social impact team.
Before departing the company in May, they suffered “glaringly unfair pay, intense discrimination, and terrifying retaliation,” Banks tweeted in June. For example, “My manager made disparaging comments about my ethnicity in front of my team,” she said.
In response, Pinterest recently brought in a team of lawyers to investigate its corporate culture. Heading up the investigation is Danielle Conley, a partner at WilmerHale who previously served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice.
In a new statement, a Pinterest spokesperson pointed to the ongoing investigation as evidence that the company is taking these allegations seriously.
Regarding Brougher’s suit, the spokesperson said, “We’re reviewing the complaint filed.”
In her post this week, Brougher said she identified problems the moment she joined Pinterest in 2018.
For example, Pinterest cofounder/CEO Ben Silbermann apparently had a habit of excluding Brougher from big decisions.
“Ben’s ‘in group,’ the men invited to the ‘meeting after the meeting,’ held all the power and influence,” according to Brougher.
Partly as a result, Brougher said that the company’s senior management team was “riven by backstabbing and gossip as executives competed for Ben’s attention.”
During her tenure, Brougher also heard complaints from advertisers that Pinterest’s tools were difficult to use and “lacking the basic features of our competitors’ ad systems.” Yet when she brought these issues to Silbermann, Brougher said she was ignored.Ultimately, Brougher was told that she was no longer welcome at Pinterest because she was “not collaborative.”