(Bloomberg) -- Pinterest Inc. plans to add a person of color to its board and will start evaluating managers based on diversity hiring, according to an email Chief Executive Officer Ben Silbermann sent staff, responding to employee concerns about racial disparities after two Black former workers said they faced discrimination there.
“I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t understand the depth of the hardship and hurt many of our team members have experienced,” Silbermann wrote in the email, obtained by Bloomberg News. “I need to do better. My leaders need to do better. And Pinterest needs to be better.”
The memo follows public allegations this week by two women who formerly worked on Pinterest’s policy team. Both said they were underpaid and that other concerns related to racial discrimination were dismissed by human resources. San Francisco-based Pinterest initially responded by saying it had investigated the women’s cases and found no wrongdoing -- a dismissive statement that prompted other employees to bring their concerns to management.
Now, Silbermann said Pinterest will hire outside experts to comprehensively review employee compensation and evaluate possible unfairness. The photo-sharing website will also evaluate whether its product caters to non-White users, and come up with ways to better serve diverse communities. Silbermann’s full memo is below:
Subject: Follow up from Q&A
Thank you for joining Q&A. If you didn’t have an opportunity to attend, the recording can be found here.
What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that parts of our culture are broken. Truthfully, I didn’t understand just how much work we have to do. That’s not an excuse, that’s a failure in leadership, and I’m truly sorry for letting you down. I’m grateful that so many of you had the courage to share your experiences honestly and openly.
It’s been devastating to hear the stories of Black employees who feel like they don’t belong at Pinterest. Because of the lack of representation in senior leadership and the board. Because they are afraid to bring concerns to their managers or HR. Because they don’t feel that they have the same opportunities to grow their careers. Because of the lack of diversity in our product and brand. These are just some of the problems. And they’re also impacting women and other underrepresented groups. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t understand the depth of the hardship and hurt many of our team members have experienced. I need to do better. My leaders need to do better. And Pinterest needs to be better.
We all know that words in an email won’t change our culture. We need to systematically understand the biggest problems, understand why these problems exist, identify specific actions we can take and set goals with owners and deadlines. We will track our progress, make this part of our review systems and hold each other accountable for making progress.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll finalize our H2 plans and OKRs. The steps we will take on Inclusion and Diversity will be integrated into these OKRs. Many of you are already contributing and giving feedback. I especially appreciate the members of Blackboard who, frankly, have had the undue burden of having to educate the company about so many serious issues during such a difficult time.
Below, I’ve shared the areas of focus I discussed at Q&A. These areas are works in progress and are being actively refined into a set of specific OKRs due at the end of H2 planning. I know that they aren’t enough. They are just a small step on a long journey. But I believe they are a step in the right direction.
I want to make our culture better. And that starts with me. I own this. I care about all of you more than you might know or feel. Most importantly, I still believe that we can make Pinterest a company where Black employees, people from all underrepresented groups and everyone will be proud to work for. It will be a hard and long road. My deepest thanks to everyone who is helping push the company forward. We have a lot of work to do.
Areas of focus. Note that these are starting points with specific goals, owners and strategies due as part of H2 planning. There are absolutely areas we need to flesh out and will want input and suggestions.
Problem 1: We lack diverse representation, especially at the senior levels of the company.
Each member of my leadership team is personally accountable for having a recruiting plan for their senior level roles. This is now baked into their core role expectations and performance reviews.Each member of my team will be responsible for building comprehensive development plans for people they see as future leaders they want to grow and nurture.I will be adding a person of color to our board by the end of the year because we need more diverse viewpoints and to increase accountability.Recruiting goals will be directly integrated into performance reviews—for my team and for me.Company-wide, we will raise the standard for building diverse slates across all roles. Diverse slates will be reported on in the weekly recruiting report. We are looking at how to drive even more accountability to make sure that we stay true to the spirit of building more diverse slates.
Problem 2: The company’s level of understanding and awareness about issues of racism, inclusion and bias is insufficient.
All employees will be required to take classes on building inclusive teams and unconscious bias.My team is doing a monthly breakfast to learn more about an aspect of systemic racism and inclusivity and will host a monthly meeting with their own teams including bringing in outside experts to share their experiences of systemic racism. At the same time, we’re working to build a more direct connection between our ERGs leaders and exec team.
Problem 3: We don’t have the depth of inclusive content in core verticals, making Pinterest less inspirational for Pinners of Color.
Establish a metrics-based understanding of how inclusive our product experience is today and set measurable goals to improve. Initially, this means we will set goals towards featuring a diverse set of creators, businesses and merchants to Pinterest, tied to a long term goal of building a far more diverse content corpus.Improve representation in teams across engineering, product and design through both recruiting and development.Operate more inclusively by rethinking inclusion in forums where we discuss and make decisions to be more representative regardless of structure or hierarchy.
There are also problems that we know about, but we are still diving in to understand the root causes and the right next steps. A key area is:
Too many people have said they don’t feel comfortable raising concerns about their managers or HR and do not feel confident that they are paid what they deserve.
We hear this in questions like:
How can I feel safe in bringing forward a concern?Are our processes actually fair?How do we hold managers accountable for unacceptable behavior? How do we provide resources to help them improve?How can I have confidence that my compensation is fair? What is the data and process we currently use to audit our pay and promotion processes?
We need to get to the bottom of these. We will hire external experts to comprehensively review the compensation of our employees starting with People of Color, then expanding to other groups. We are also finding external experts to independently review our other internal processes.
So, what can you expect? Teams are actively integrating building on these themes and laying out specific Objectives and Key Results with owners and deadlines. The due date to lock all of our plans is H2 planning, but many of your leaders are already sharing their plans because they need help setting the right goals, brainstorming solutions and resourcing. Thanks to everyone who is stepping up.
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