Pinterest pledges $50M to reduce bias within its hiring, processes

Many companies are taking action to bolster their efforts to correct discriminatory practices in their employment polices.

Pinterest, a tech company that employs over 1,200 workers, has pledged $50 million to fund talent and worker training programs aimed at identifying companies with discrimination problems and developing solutions.

The company also pledged to draft and implement a “central human resources system to help employees identify and resolve discrimination complaints,” and, as many others have recently done, to train employees to handle potential discrimination complaints with the goal of reducing them, the New York Times reported.

The newly released documents will help employees better navigate the discrimination process and include forms to communicate complaints and recover lost wages or benefit balances.

It’s a clear response from a company facing discrimination problems of its own. Pinterest’s HR team compiled an analysis of its own discrimination complaints and uncovered 43 cases of possible discrimination during the last two years, “often by managers who were not adequately monitoring employees’ non-performance behavior,” the Times reported.

In one scenario, a manager reprimanded a member of the team who didn’t like how he was portrayed in an internal culture video. That manager may have had a case of sexually-harassing an employee because the team member didn’t like being labeled as gay.

Most of the time, the Times reported, complaints were substantiated through a complex — and sometimes time-consuming — process that Pinterest’s human resources department lacked the resources to manage.

“Employees complained of poor job performance, being treated unfairly by colleagues, being undervalued and feeling targeted, especially based on gender, race, nationality and sexual orientation,” the company wrote in a memo obtained by the Times.

Pinterest has a big corporate voice to convey changes necessary in the tech industry in general.

The Internet company, born on the coattails of Facebook, rose to prominence by providing easy-to-use tools to image-sharing. It’s a powerful presence on the internet, its users contributing 7 billion pins per day to over 70 billion people who follow its site. The company’s employees made up nearly 10 percent of Pinterest’s workforce last year.

But in early February, Pinterest followed companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Twitter into the world of diversity announcements. All of those tech companies have said they are dedicated to solving the issue of racial and gender discrimination.

This issue has taken on increasing urgency in recent years, as corporations have been hit with discrimination allegations in 2018. More companies will be subjected to discrimination allegations in the future, leading tech companies to ensure workers understand what is possible in terms of practice — and the potential impact of one simple step.

Joyce Ordaz, C.E.O. of Greycroft Partners, a venture capital firm, told the Times she welcomed the effort from Pinterest, and encouraged more companies to take action.

“Given the systemic nature of [discrimination], it’s a very important step,” she said. “I think this will make a positive impact.”

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