Pinterest pledges $50m to gender and racial equality

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption One of the case’s claims involved Rochelle, a Pinner

Pinterest has announced it is donating $50 million (£38 million) to instituting gender and racial discrimination reforms and to the Harvard Law School claims process.

The company announced the funding was part of a “smooth transition” in its workplace, following sexual harassment allegations.

Last month, a 33-year-old engineer who alleges he was blacklisted for rejecting advances made by a male co-worker launched a legal case against the company.

And three women who claim they faced racial discrimination at Pinterest filed a separate lawsuit last week.

Linda Zhong, 23, said she faced “discrimination, harassment and retaliation” at Pinterest after she rejected comments made by male co-workers.

In February 2015, Ms Zhong, who is a Chinese-American, says she was racially profiled by a human resources employee for not wearing a skirt.

When asked if the incident was the reason for her disqualification from being promoted, Pinterest said it had found no evidence that racism was involved.

A co-worker repeatedly asked Ms Zhong to “get close to him”, she told the court on Monday.

‘Respect the code’

Pinterest engineer Rochelle Smith, who founded the campaign Safety Shout, has previously been critical of the company’s efforts to resolve complaints of sexual harassment in its workplace.

The diversity, inclusion and discrimination task force instituted by Pinterest in August will now be called the Equity and Inclusion Council.

The council has 15 members and one of them will be Rochelle, according to the company’s statement on Monday.

“The challenges of diversity and inclusion have galvanised so many individuals across all industries,” Pinterest said in a blog post on Monday.

“Today is the next step in a smooth transition from a company in flux to a more inclusive and merit-based workplace.

“Over the past year, we’ve revamped our policies, implemented new transparency measures, held district-level town halls with all our employees, made our policies more transparent, made introductions with diverse industry experts and used a variety of employee input to craft new internal policies.”

The company will also name to the creation of an independently-run compensation system based on merit.

What are the details of the class action case?

The case, filed by Tammy Koo, Madeline Hughes and Shayna Goldner, accuses Pinterest of relying on outdated, discriminatory employment practices that unfairly disadvantage women.

Ms Goldner claims the three co-workers and other male employees of colour she met on Pinterest pursued her, even though she was the most qualified candidate.

She said she was repeatedly sexually harassed, demoted and retaliated against.

Ms Koo, from Massachusetts, says she was reprimanded after she refused to work late at night in a “safe space” dedicated to fetish activities.

In August, another high-profile US tech company, Apple, paid out a large compensation package to two female employees who complained of improper behaviour in a class action lawsuit.

The payout of $5 million (£3.55 million) was one of the largest in a workplace harassment case, Reuters reported, which went to trial last week.

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