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Former Pinterest COO Accused the Company of Having a Misogynistic and Hostile Work Environment

Christiana Daniels

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Former Pinterest COO Accused the Company of Allegedly Having a Misogynistic And Hostile Work Environment

There appears to be trouble in paradise for Pinterest. The American image-sharing platform has been accused of having a misogynistic, hostile, and toxic work environment. 

Francoise Brougher, the former COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Pinterest on Tuesday, published a 4,000-word blog post on Medium. 

She was the COO from 2018 till April 2020. Before Pinterest, she had held positions at Square and Google. 

In its content, she highlighted that Pinterest has a discriminatory, hostile, and toxic workspace. She also stated that it was fond of silencing its female executives. 

If you didn’t know, Brougher was fired earlier in the year. This blog post was published shortly after the New York Times reported that she had filed a lawsuit against Pinterest.

Former Pinterest COO Accused the Company of Allegedly Having a Misogynistic And Hostile Work Environment

Getty Images: Pinterest

Her lawsuit is said to be on the grounds of gender discrimination.

Sexism, harassment, and lack of diversity have also been a weak point for Silicon Valley. However, what’s shocking about this is it rarely receives lawsuits from senior leaders.

“According to Pinterest, I was fired not for the results I achieved, but for not being ‘collaborative”.

Francoise also wrote in the post. 

Misogynist, toxic and sexist

“I believe that I was fired for speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny that permeates Pinterest.”

Brougher did not mention the lawsuit in her blog post. However, she cited many examples of how they treated her. She also stated how often her opinions and views were dismissed during her time at Pinterest.

According to Brougher, they didn’t involve her in essential meetings that the company’s CEO, Ben Silbermann oversaw. You must be aware that this kind of occurrence is not new. 

Women often face gender bias issues in the tech ecosystem. The tech space appears to be a ‘boys club’. What might shock you, in this case, is an established female tech leader experiencing the same thing.

Brougher speaking up about this would help other women who might be battling the same fate to voice out. In the case of Brougher, the issues began shortly after she mentioned relevant issues regarding the company’s advertising strategies. 

These strategies also had impacts on Pinterest’s revenue.

In addition, she explained that “Ben, in addition to being CEO, was also head of product. Now suddenly I was disinvited from all the product team meetings.”

Former Pinterest COO Accused the Company of Allegedly Having a Misogynistic And Hostile Work Environment

Getty Images: Ben Silbermann

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She also mentioned that her equity was vested on a different schedule than all other executives.

She figured this out after the company filed its IPO prospectus in 2019. 

The transference of responsibility

In April, Pinterest announced that Brougher was relieved of her office effective immediately. They also said her responsibilities would become Morgenfeld’s.

Silbermann appreciated Brougher for her “substantial contributions”. He also said that “as we continue to position the company for long-term growth, we believe consolidating our financial and COO organizations under one leader will accelerate our execution speed.”

In Brougher’s post, she wrote that she was discriminated against based on her gender by Morgenfeld. 

To back that up, she said he wrote in her review that her only accomplishment in the company was that of a patron for diversity issues. 

“Reducing a female executive’s achievements to ‘diversity’ is a common form of gender discrimination,” she wrote in her post. “Being a woman at Pinterest was not my only accomplishment.”

Brougher attempted to repair her relationship with Morgenfiled, but reports showed that she did nothing wrong after a concluded investigation.

A week later, she received a video call from Ben that she was fired. This was explained in a section of her blog post: “The Retaliation”.

Brougher also went further to say she was asked by Ben to tell her team she was leaving by choice. On that note, she was asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

“I was not going to lie to my team and did not sign the NDA presented to me,” she also wrote. “I realized it was more important to finally be an advocate for women at Pinterest, and anyone else experiencing the pernicious effects of sexism, bias, and retaliation.”

She ended by saying that after she got fired, not a single board member reached out to hear her side of the story.

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