The social media app Pinterest have agreed to pay out £16.9 million after former Chief Operating Officer, Françoise Brougher, brought claims of gender discrimination against the company. 

In one of the largest publicly announced settlements for gender discrimination, social media app Pinterest have agreed to pay out $22.5 million (or £16.9 million) after its former Chief Operating Officer stated that she faced gender discrimination whilst working at the company.

Françoise Brougher, who joined the company in 2018, sued Pinterest after claiming she had been paid less than her male peers, been left out of meetings after raising the issue of equal pay and had been told that she was “not collaborative” once she offered constructive criticism regarding Pinterest’s products and services.

In Ms. Brougher’s own words, she felt that she was “fired not for the results [she] achieved but… for speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment and misogyny that permeates Pinterest”.

As Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Brougher had around half of the company’s 1,500 employees reporting to her and was responsible for increasing profits from $500 million to $1.1 billion in less than two years.

In regards to the claims made by Ms. Brougher, Pinterest opened an investigation into its culture. After this, it appointed Andrea Wishom and Salaam Coleman Smith, two Black female media executives, onto its board of Directors. The company additionally hired a new Head of Diversity and Inclusion, became more transparent about salaries and teamed up with the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) for an advisory council.

Responding to this, Ms. Brougher stated that she welcomed “the meaningful steps Pinterest has taken to improve its workplace environment and is encouraged that Pinterest is committed to building a culture that allows all employees to feel included and supported”.

Within her own writing, Ms. Brougher laid out several recommendations that all companies could take in order to improve their Diversity and Inclusion and foster a positive and welcoming culture:

  • Stop making grandiose statements without taking meaningful action
  • Recognise and dismantle the system of gender bias
  • Take effective, proactive steps to root out discrimination
  • Focus on retention, not hiring
  • Stop making big decisions in ad-hoc, opaque ways
  • Embrace candour and passionate leadership
  • Hold the board of Directors accountable

Pinterest and Ms. Brougher stated that $2.5 million would be donated to various charities that help women and minority groups get hired by technology companies.

The social media app said in a formal statement:

Pinterest recognises the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture.