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“This appointment is focused on Andrea’s expertise and what she can bring to Pinterest, and not in response to any specific events.”
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After Walkout Over Company Racism, Pinterest Adds Its First Black Board Member
Andrea Wishom of Skywalker Holdings joins Pinterest’s overwhelmingly white board of directors
Pinterest announced it was adding Andrea Wishom, president at Skywalker Holdings and former executive vice president at Harpo Productions, to its board of directors on Monday. The addition of Wishom, who is a Black woman, comes three days after Pinterest employees staged a virtual walkout over racial discrimination and retaliation at the company.
“I want to thank the entire Pinterest board for this opportunity,” Wishom said in a statement on Monday. “In this unprecedented moment in time, I’m excited to join the board of a global company that has provided exploration and inspiration to so many, including myself.”
Wishom is the third woman on Pinterst’s board of directors and its first Black member. The board is currently composed of Jeffrey Jordan, formerly a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz; Leslie J. Kilgore, a director at Netflix; Jeremy S. Levine, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners; Gokul Rajaram, Caviar lead at DoorDash; Frederic G. Reynolds, director of Mondelez International, Inc. and United Technologies Corporation; Evan Sharp, Pinterest co-founder and chief design and creative officer; Ben Silbermann, Pinterest co-founder and CEO; and Michelle Wilson, formerly senior vice president at Amazon.
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A spokesperson for Pinterest said that the addition of Wishom was not a response to Friday’s walkout, saying “the board has been speaking with many candidates over the past few months. This appointment is focused on Andrea’s expertise and what she can bring to Pinterest, and not in response to any specific events.”
At Skywalker Holdings, Wishom oversees operations at the privately held property management company affiliated with George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch. At Harpo Productions, where Wishom worked for more than 20 years, she held various production, programming, development, and executive roles for The Oprah Winfrey Show and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
The announcement punctuates several months of unrest at Pinterest after Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two Black women who formerly worked on the company’s policy team, went public about their mistreatment by managers and Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann. In July, the Washington Post reported that Ozoma and Banks faced racist comments, unequal pay, and retaliation at the company for speaking up about the conditions they experienced. Silbermann denied their claims in an internal email to staff, according to the Post. Both women filed complaints last year with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
“This appointment is focused on Andrea’s expertise and what she can bring to Pinterest, and not in response to any specific events.”
Last month, OneZero reported on moderation problems at the company, identifying numerous examples of harmful content that persists on the platform. OneZero also spoke to former content moderators at Pinterest who described their jobs and “second-class” treatment as a “permanent nightmare.” Their stories underscore the testimonies of Ozoma and Banks that Pinterest, while promoting itself as Silicon Valley’s friendliest social media platform, suffers the same systemic inequalities of other technology companies.
And on Tuesday last week, Pinterest’s former COO Françoise Brougher filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Pinterest after reporting mistreatment by the company’s CFO Todd Morgenfeld. According to the New York Times, Brougher also experienced pay inequality and sexist comments from colleagues. The suit describes Silbermann as “dismissive of Ms. Brougher’s concerns about Mr. Morgenfeld, comparing it to a domestic dispute.”
In a statement on Monday about Wishom’s new role, Silbermann wrote, “For the past few months, the board has been meeting with many great candidates, and Andrea stood out for several reasons. She’s an expert in creating positive and inspirational content for global audiences, and a passionate advocate for building a company culture of respect, integrity, inclusion, and support — areas in which we must innovate and improve. Andrea has spent her career outside of Silicon Valley and has a vision for reimagining the board/employee relationship. We welcome her creativity and authenticity, and I’m honored to grow Pinterest alongside her.”
Wishom said in a statement that she is “interested in Ben’s vision of having a new type of conversation between employees and the board itself.”
“Part of meeting this moment is looking outside the expected and bringing different perspectives to the table,” Wishom added. “There are real challenges to address, and that responsibility is not lost on me. I’m committed to listening and sharing my perspective and providing guidance as Pinterest continues to make positive strides forward.”