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$20m Paid By Pinterest For Settlement Of A Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

$20m Paid By Pinterest For Settlement Of A Gender Discrimination Lawsuit
A record $20m settlement fee was paid by the virtual scrapbook company Pinterest for settling a gender discrimination lawsuit that was filed by a female executive. The executive gad alleged that that she was fired after “speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny” at the San Francisco firm.
The action of the company was described by company’s former chief operating officer, Françoise Brougher, as a way of marginalising and silencing women and not including them pin the decision making process.
Pinterest – a website mostly used by women where users share recipes, home decoration and gardening ideas, conceded that it must do more to “improve its culture”, after which the woman accepted the payout settlement.
An investment of $2.5m in “advancing women and underrepresented communities in the technology industry” will also be made by the company worth $34bn as part of the settlement with Brougher. It is often alleged that a “tech bro” culture is dominant in the tech sector companies in the United States under which men are encouraged while females are blocked from being placed in top decision making positions in companies.
The only condition of Pinterest making the settlement public so that other women in the male-dominated tech industry could also know and act in this manner was placed by her prior to agreeing on the settlement, Brougher said. She was allegedly fired in April this year while on a video call with Pinterest’s 38-year-old billionaire chief executive, Ben Silbermann.
“My goal was about accountability and driving change,” she said .
This $20m settlement is also being touted to be the largest publicly announced settlement for gender discrimination. Pinterest however did not admit to any wrongdoing according to the settlement.
In a blogpost titled The Pinterest Paradox: Cupcakes and Toxicity written by her in August, Brougher made her lawsuit against her former employer public. It was time to eliminate the “boys’ clubs” that have dominant positions in far too many companies and thereby create space for more female leaders and their ideas, she said in the blog post.
“Although 70% 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 marginalised, excluded and silenced”, she had written.
Only when women “are more the norm than the exception” in leadership roles will the discrimination against female executives end, Brougher said.
“When men speak out, they get rewarded,” she said after publishing her blogpost. “When women speak out, they get fired.”
When she read the company’s official filings ahead of its flotation on the stock market last year, she had also discovered that she was grossly underpaid compared with her male Pinterest peers, said the French former Google executive. The company punished her when the discrepancy was brought up by her with Silbermann, Brougher said.
“There is a reason that women do not negotiate as hard as men for higher pay. It is not because we are not good negotiators. As I would learn at Pinterest, it is because we get punished when we do. I want more women to speak up,” she said on Twitter this week. “But more importantly, I want more women in the C-suite.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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