Pinterest COO Settlement Ignores Black Women Who Blew Whistle Back in June

The $22.5 million settlement is a stark contrast from how two Black employees were treated when they spoke out

Tracey Ford
Momentum
Published in
2 min readDec 21, 2020

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In what was likely seen as a nice step forward for women fighting gender discrimination in the workplace, particularly at the often all-male C-suite level, former Pinterest chief operating officer Françoise Brougher received a $22.5 million settlement, the largest of its kind to date. Unfortunately, the settlement highlights the difference between how Black and White women are received when raising issues of discrimination and inequality in the workplace.

Two months before Brougher, a White woman, filed her suit, two Black women, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, came out on social media with their claims of racial and gender discrimination. Ozoma and Banks’ allegations inspired more women to share their experiences at Pinterest, and Brougher herself credits the pair for giving her “the courage to come forward.” But Ozoma and Banks didn’t receive the same treatment as Brougher. Initially, Pinterest came forward and claimed the two women had been treated fairly before eventually admitting that the company needed to “do better.”

Now, the company is receiving criticism once again for how it treated the initial claims from two Black women versus the seemingly swift manner in which Brougher’s allegations were treated — Brougher’s case was settled in just four months when cases of this kind typically take years to be resolved.

“This week, we saw, yet again, another large corporation display clear inequitable treatment of Black employees in Silicon Valley,” says Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, senior campaigns director at the racial equity organization Color of Change. “Pinterest’s handling of Françoise Brougher’s lawsuit — paying out $22.5 million — compared to how the company practically ignored Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks after they called out intense discrimination, is blatant racism in practice.”

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