Pinterest Commissions Review of Workplace Culture After Recent Revelations of Discriminatory Practices

Earlier in the month, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann committed to addressing issues of racial inequality within the company, after two former employees publicly criticized the platform’s #BlackLivesMatter stance, and detailed their experiences, as employees of color, within its workplace culture.

Today, Pinterest has taken its next steps, announcing that it will undergo an independent audit of its processes, to be conducted by WilmerHale.

As per Pinterest:

“We know that building a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for every employee is fundamentally important for Pinterest. Our decision to commission an independent review reporting to the Special Committee is a critical step. We look forward to doing an objective assessment to identify opportunities for improving our culture and our company.”

The review will include an in-depth assessment of Pinterest’s policies and practices concerning discrimination, harassment, and other workplace issues. The review will also evaluate how Pinterest promotes and compensates employees, and how the company responds to and investigates complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

The initial revelations, in light of the #BlackLivesMatter protests, came as something of a surprise, particularly given Pinterest’s various initiatives to address racial inequality, through both its hiring process and its products.

Indeed, back in January, as part of its sixth Diversity Report, Pinterest touted the fact that it had exceeded all of its hiring goals in this area.

The former employees both shared experiences of being unfairly paid and unfairly targeted by white employees. Both also noted that Pinterest’s response to their concerns was inadequate.

Silbermann himself also seemed to have been taken off-guard by the reports, and vowed to implement change:

“I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t understand the depth of the hardship and hurt many of our team members have experienced. I need to do better. My leaders need to do better. And Pinterest needs to be better.”

This new investigation will be the first step along that path, while Pinterest has also implemented some immediate steps as a result of its initial findings:

  • We strengthened our diverse slate requirement for recruiting as we work to improve representation, especially at senior levels.
  • We set clear goals to increase the representation of content we show to Pinners.
  • We are revamping our Unconscious Bias and Leading Inclusive Teams trainings. These expanded offerings will be available to every employee by the end of July.

In some ways, the Pinterest case highlights a level of racial bias that many may not be aware exists, even within their own organizations. Systemic process is difficult to overcome, because its learned behavior, it’s not always a conscious, intended thing. That’s not to say that all of the noted incidents at Pinterest were unintended, but the case highlights the need for all businesses to take a deeper look at their culture in order to identify potential areas of failure in this respect. 

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