Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann promised in June to add a person of color to the company’s board of directors by the end of the year, and that promise was kept Monday with the addition of Skywalker Holdings president Andrea Wishom.
Before joining holding company Skywalker in June 2015, Wishom spent more than 20 years at Harpo Productions, the multimedia production company founded by Oprah Winfrey, where she held various production, programming, development and executive roles for The Oprah Winfrey Show and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
The appointment of Wishom was originally scheduled for last Friday, but the announcement was postponed due to a virtual walkout by employees over allegations of racial and gender discrimination at the company.
Former Pinterest chief operating officer Francoise Brougher, who left the company in April, filed a lawsuit last week against her former employer, alleging that she was unlawfully terminated for bringing up issues, including sexist comments directed toward her, to chief human resources officer Jo Dennis and Silbermann.
Brougher’s allegations mirrored similar complaints voiced via Twitter in June by two black women who left the company in May after each holding the role of public policy and social impact manager, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks.
Silbermann responded to the allegations raised by Ozoma and Banks in an email to staff, admitting that the company lacked diverse representation, particularly in senior leadership, and saying that recruiting plans for senior-level roles are now “baked into” the core role expectations and performance reviews for Pinterest’s leadership team. That was also when he promised the change to the company’s board.
Silbermann said in a statement Monday, “For the past few months, the board has been meeting with many great candidates, and Andrea stood out for several reasons. She’s an expert in creating positive and inspirational content for global audiences, and a passionate advocate for building a company culture of respect, integrity, inclusion and support—areas in which we must innovate and improve. Andrea has spent her career outside of Silicon Valley and has a vision for reimagining the board/employee relationship. We welcome her creativity and authenticity, and I’m honored to grow Pinterest alongside her.”
Wishom added, “I’ve been a Pinner since 2011, and having a one-of-a-kind platform that helps us achieve our goals and dreams is needed now more than ever. I’ve spent my entire career inspired to take on challenges both creatively and culturally. I’m particularly interested in Pinterest’s expansion into content and media. I’m equally interested in Ben’s vision of having a new type of conversation between employees and the board itself. Part of meeting this moment is looking outside the expected and bringing different perspectives to the table. There are real challenges to address, and that responsibility is not lost on me. I’m committed to listening and sharing my perspective and providing guidance as Pinterest continues to make positive strides forward.”