Former Pinterest COO Françoise Brougher sued the company on Tuesday for gender discrimination and retaliation, accusing Pinterest of firing her after she brought up concerns about “rampant discrimination, hostile work environment and misogyny” inside the company.
A former Pinterest exec spoke out this week filing a lawsuit against the company for gender discrimination and retaliation. Françoise Brougher says she and other women at the tech giant were often left out of important decisions in what she describes as a ‘boys club’. When Brougher brought her concerns to human resource managers, she claims instead of investigating her claims she was quickly dismissed.
In a Medium post, Brougher says she and other women were often left out of important decisions because CEO Ben Silbermann and two or three of his trusted male lieutenants “held all the power and influence.”
Brougher says she was the only executive of the leadership team who had a “less favorable vesting schedule” in the company’s S-1 IPO filing. Pinterest eventually fixed the issue, but only after she “presented a spreadsheet illustrating the inequity and fought for my fair share,” she said.
In an episode illustrating alleged discrimination, Brougher says CFO Todd Morgenfeld wrote in a 2019 performance review “she seems to be a champion for diversity issues,” and did not mention anything about her normal responsibilities, even though Brougher wasn’t involved in any official diversity and inclusion efforts.
In a call discussing the review, Brougher says Morgenfeld “was defensive and questioned the value I brought to Pinterest. He yelled at me, interrupted me, called me a liar, and eventually hung up on me.”
After the call, Brougher says Morgenfeld stopped speaking to her and refused to acknowledge her in meetings.
In a statement, a Pinterest spokesperson said the company was “reviewing” the complaint and cited “an ongoing independent review regarding our culture, policies, and practices.”
“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,” Brougher wrote. “I have always been a private person, but I am opening up about my experience because if someone of my privilege and seniority is fired for speaking out about these issues, the situation is likely far worse for people earlier in their careers.”
Pinterest has cultivated a reputation in Silicon Valley and the media for being a “nice” tech company, as opposed to those facing regulatory crackdowns like Facebook and Uber. Pinterest won plaudits for tamping down vaccine misinformation and not promoting plantation weddings. The company has even blocked all coronavirus searches and only surfaces “pins” from internationally-recognized health organizations. But cracks have started to form. Two Black female employees accused the company of racial bias on Twitter in June, prompting Silbermann to send a letter to staff declaring the company’s culture was “broken.” The Washington Post and Business Insider have since published stories detailing the company’s alleged toxic environment and discriminatory practices.