Pinterest Begins the Long Task of Repairing Its Corporate Culture

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr will conduct an independent review

Pinterest enlisted help to fix its corporate culture Pinterest
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Pinterest began taking steps last week to review and repair a corporate culture that has come under fire in recent weeks.

The company’s board of directors created a special committee of independent directors to conduct a review of its workplace culture.

The board retained Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr to handle the review, and the team will be led by Danielle Conley, co-chair of WilmerHale’s anti-discrimination practice and former associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice.

Last month, former Pinterest public policy and social impact managers Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, both of whom left the company in May, took to Twitter to share explosive allegations about the conditions they endured and why they departed.

A Pinterest spokesperson responded at the time: “We took these issues seriously and conducted a thorough investigation when they were raised, and we’re confident both employees were treated fairly. We want each and every one of our employees at Pinterest to feel welcomed, valued and respected. As we outlined in our statement June 2, we’re committed to advancing our work in inclusion and diversity by taking action at our company and on our platform. In areas where we, as a company, fall short, we must and will do better.”

Days later, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann sent an email to the company’s employees, saying in part, “What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that parts of our culture are broken,” and admitting that the company lacked diverse representation, particularly in senior leadership.

Silbermann said recruiting plans for senior-level roles are now “baked into” the core role expectations and performance reviews for Pinterest’s leadership team, and a person of color will be added to its board by the end of 2020.

Pinterest’s board said in a statement, “The WilmerHale review will include an in-depth assessment of Pinterest’s policies and practices concerning discrimination, harassment and other workplace issues. WilmerHale will also review and assess the way Pinterest evaluates, promotes and compensates employees and how the company responds to and investigates complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”

Silbermann added, “Danielle will report directly to this special committee of the board to ensure independence. This is a good thing for Pinterest because it will provide us with the most objective assessment of where we are and the opportunities we have to improve our culture moving forward. I’m fully supportive of this independent evaluation, as well as Danielle and the WilmerHale team … If the WilmerHale team reaches out to you, please prioritize following up. This is important work that will help us make Pinterest better.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.