December 21, 2020

Pinterest Board Agrees to Create Ombuds Program for Employees

For the past five months, a Special Committee of the Pinterest Board reviewed the workplace culture at the social media company. The internal review was prompted by lawsuit filed by Pinterest's former COO, who alleged "rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny." In December the parties agreed to a $20 million settlement, which required the company to publicly acknowledging that it must do more to improve its workplace culture. The committee made several recommendations which have already been adopted unanimously by the Board, including the creation of an Ombuds office. 

The Special Committee's report says:
III. Prioritize People
* * *
E. Create an Ombuds Office. We recognize that some employees may be more comfortable having someone outside the People Team listen and help determine the best avenue to resolve their concerns. Pinterest should pilot (for two years) an independent Ombuds Office that is not part of the People Team. The Ombuds Office, will, among other things: confidentially counsel employees who have concerns beut are uncertain whether to file a formal complaint; provide guidance about Pinterest's policies and investigatory processes as well as the resources to support employees participating in an investigation; and escalate systemic issues and concerns.
F. Clarify Roles of the People Team and the Ombuds Office. Pinterest should revise its employee-facing guidance to clarify the roles played and services provided by various grounds within the People Team (including HR Business Partners and People Experience Partners), as well as to inform employees about the Ombuds Office.
The Pinterest Special Committee was guided by Danielle Conley of the Washington-based law firm WilmerHale, which also wrote IOA's position paper on confidentiality in Title IX matters. (Pinterest Board Announcement, Special Committee Statement and Report.)

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