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Continuing a reckoning sparked by two Black employees who accused the company of racial bias, employees of the social media service Pinterest are planning a virtual walk out Friday to demand “systemic change.”

The work action is to support Aerica Shimizu Banks and Ifeoma Ozoma who accused the social media service of racial discrimination in June, as well as Francoise Brougher, Pinterest’s former COO who filed suit against the service Tuesday alleging gender bias and wrongful termination.

“Even when unintended, all forms of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest must stop,” said the call to action, posted on a website that represents Pinterest employees. “Walk out on Friday, August 14th, 1pm PST by posting this message. I am [upset/angry/shocked/unhappy/whatever you’re feeling] about the racial and gender discrimination that has happened at Pinterest, and am leaving work early today.”

The posting also asked workers to sign a petition demanding an end to workplace bias and to overlay their personal profile photos on the communications channel Slack with the faces of Banks, Ozoma and Brougher “until the change is implemented.”

Pinterest said in a statement that “we respect and hear the employees who want to see a clear commitment to action, and we will ensure an open dialogue that leads to progress to make Pinterest the place we all know it can be.”

The company also previously denied the racial bias charges while saying it’s hired a law firm to investigate. And it told the New York Times that Brougher’s claim was being reviewed and the company wants “all of our employees (to) feel included and supported.” 

As a national protest movement demands an end to systemic racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer, Black employees have seized the moment to speak up about the racial bigotry they have faced in the workplace.

Allies across racial lines have joined in the calls for companies, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street to go beyond empty slogans to deliver concrete change. 

“I am so proud,” Ozoma told USA TODAY in an interview Thursday. “Pinterest does not have a culture of pushing back and demanding accountability. The fact that this is happening, that they are doing this now is huge.”

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The decision she and Shimizu Banks made to speak out about the bias they say they faced was a significant professional risk.

“Black women are often the most marginalized in our workplaces, yet time and again we take great risk to speak up for ourselves and for others,” Ozoma said. “We are often laying the groundwork for these movements, and yet are somehow written out of them.”

Pinterest is a popular platform for users looking for recipes and tips on topics ranging from what to wear to how to decorate. In June, the company reported that it had roughly 400 million monthly active users, most of whom are women.

Still, its “workplace is far from perfect,” Brougher said in an open letter on Medium.com the day the lawsuit was filed alleging she was let go in April for speaking about “the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny.”  

“The company is steered by men with little input from female executives,” she said in the post. “Pinterest’s female executives, even at the highest levels, are marginalized, excluded, and silenced.”

Contributing: Jessica Guynn

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/08/13/pinterest-workers-walk-out-calling-end-workplace-bias/3369999001/