Pinterest: A Curious Case of Sexism

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Almost a week ago, Pinterest’s former Chief Operating Officer, Francoise Brougher filed a lawsuit against the company accusing it of gender discrimination. The news comes just months after two black employees Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks had also complained of racial and gender bias in the company. 

In the lawsuit filed by her in the San Francisco Superior Court, Ms Francoise stated how she was left out of important meetings, was paid lesser than her male counterparts and was ultimately fired for speaking up.

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She also opened up about her experience in a piece titled “The Pinterest Paradox: Cupcakes and Toxicity” on Medium. She wrote, “Although 70 per cent of Pinterest’s users are women, the company is steered by men with little input from female executives. Pinterest’s female executives, even at the highest levels, are marginalized, excluded, and silenced. I know because until my firing in April, I was Pinterest’s chief operating officer.” 

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Francoise Brougher
Francoise Brougher (Image Source- The Business Journals)

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Unequal pay and gender bias at the workplace have been causes of concern across countries. Men on executive boards in most companies are unconsciously biased towards other male employees. A New York Times op-ed deftly points how most industries, especially the tech industry which “… so loudly purports to celebrate meritocracy is a mirror-tocracy — reflecting only those who look just like themselves.” Besides, unconscious gender stereotypes ensure that women find it hard to get certain jobs, especially ones involving leadership roles.

Ms Francoise’s lawsuit serves as a warning bell to companies around the globe to create inclusive spaces where women aren’t sidelined. Transparent decision-making processes which ensure that all voices are heard and represented are important. Companies should examine pay, hiring and retention patterns by gender and other underrepresented areas and then try to fix disparities if any. After all, recognizing biases is the first step in eliminating them.

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