Jessica Westerman Quoted On Pinterest Discrimination Lawsuit

Katz, Marshall & Banks senior associate Jessica Westerman was quoted in HR.com’s article, “Women in Silicon Valley: Corporate America’s Gender Paradox.”

In December, Françoise Brougher, the former Chief Operating Officer of Pinterest reached a $22.5 million settlement with the image sharing and social media platform to resolve her claims of gender discrimination. The settlement is noteworthy for several reasons: it’s the largest publicized settlement for a gender discrimination case; it’s rare for c-suite level women to publically report on discrimination at the workplace; and Pinterest did not even fight the allegations.

Unfortunately, race and gender discrimination are all too commonplace in the tech industry. Google, Tesla, Uber, Apple, and other tech giants have all come under pressure for their treatment of woman at work. According to Brougher, Pinterest – despite having a user base that’s 70% women – was no different, and fostered a misogynistic and hostile work environment.

Included in the settlement is the stipulation that Pinterest commit $2.5 million towards the advancement of women and underrepresented communities in the tech industry. But Ms. Westerman believes Pinterest – and companies like it – need a more fundamental change in how important decisions are made.

“Companies should ensure that business decisions are made with the full input of their executive teams rather than a small cadre of an executive leader’s close (frequently male) confidants, as was the case at Pinterest. This will ensure that female executives’ voices are heard, which will go a long way toward retaining women at the executive level.”

Compared to other industries, the tech industry has been resistant to improving diversity, particularly at senior levels. Hopefully this serves as a wakeup call across Silicon Valley.

Read the full article here.