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The former Pinterest COO says the company suffers from misogynistic workplace



Francoise Brougher

Source: Pinterest

Francoise Brougher, Pinterest’s former chief operating officer, posted a 4,000-word blog post on Tuesday, accusing the company of having a discriminatory, misogynistic and hostile work environment that silences women executives.

Brougher, who was fired earlier this year, published the blog post shortly after the New York Times reported that she filed a lawsuit against the company for gender discrimination. While sexism, bullying and lack of diversity are common problems in Silicon Valley, tech companies rarely face lawsuits from old executives.

“According to Pinterest, I was fired not for the results achieved, but for not being ̵

6;cooperative,'” wrote Brougher, who was COO from March 2018 to April, and previously held executive positions in Square and Google. “I believe I have been fired for talking about rampant discrimination, the hostile work environment and the malice that pervades Pinterest.”

Brougher did not mention the lawsuit in her blog post, but catalyzed the many ways she was allegedly mistreated and the times her views were dismissed during her tenure. Specifically, Brougher says she was excluded from important meetings by Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann after sounding the alarm about a key issue regarding the company’s advertising systems and its impact on revenue.

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

Brougher also said that her capital was devoted to a different program than other Pinterest executives, which she realized after the company submitted its IPO leaflet in 2019. She said that in her first year she was given only 37 % of what her closest peer, CFO Todd Morgenfeld, gave her in his first year at the company.

“The discovery that I was given a less favorable holding schedule was disturbing, but what really bothered me was that I had been deceived,” she wrote.

Pinterest said in a preliminary earnings statement in April that Brougher was leaving effective immediately and that her responsibilities would pass to Morgenfeld. In the statement, Silbermann thanked Brougher for her “substantial contributions” and said, “As we continue to position the company for long-term growth, we believe that consolidating our financial organizations and COO under one leader will accelerate our execution speed.”

Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest Inc., center, the opening ring on the New York Stock Exchange during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Brougher wrote that Morgenfeld discriminated against her based on gender, writing in her performance appraisal that her only achievement in the company was being a champion on diversity issues.

“Reducing a female executive’s achievement to ‘diversity’ is a common form of gender discrimination,” she wrote. “Being a woman on Pinterest was not my only achievement.”

After asking the company’s human resources department to help fix her relationship with Morgenfeld, Brougher said she was informed that an investigation at Morgenfeld revealed he had done nothing wrong. A week later, Silbermann shot Brougher during a video call, she wrote in part of her post titled “Revenge.”

Brougher said she was asked by Silbermann to tell her team she was leaving the election and sign a non-disclosure agreement.

“I would not lie to my team and did not sign the NDA submitted to me,” she wrote. “I realized it was more important to eventually become a lawyer for women on Pinterest and for anyone else experiencing the harmful effects of sexism, prejudice and revenge.”

She added that after she was fired, no board member called “to hear my side of the story or to discuss what had happened”.

Pinterest did not respond to a request for comment.

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