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Two former Pinterest policy employees say they faced racism at work

FILE PHOTO: A guest hold up a phone during the Pinterest Inc. IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Two former Pinterest employees who left the image-sharing company in late May publicly alleged in tweets on Monday that they had experienced racial discrimination in the workplace.

Ifeoma Ozoma, who was Pinterest’s public policy and social impact manager, called the company’s recent solidarity with the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement “a joke.”

Companies have rushed to publish statements of solidarity with the black community following global protests over racism and injustice after George Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

“As a Black woman, seeing @Pinterest’s middle of the night ‘Black employees matter’ statement made me scratch my head after I just fought for over a full year to be paid and leveled fairly…” Ozoma said in one tweet.

Pinterest did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. A public note from its CEO on June 2 said the company was committed to taking action and improving its diversity.

Aerica Shimizu Banks, who worked with Ozoma in the same small policy team, said on Twitter that it was a “racist & sexist workplace” and that she had faced disparaging comments about her ethnicity from her manager.

Ozoma also said she was chastised for not presenting the pros and cons for a policy change that restricted Pinterest’s promotion of former Southern slave plantations as wedding venues and for a recommendation on contractor pay.

Civil rights organization Color of Change, which worked with Ozoma and Shimizu Banks in their former roles, said in a statement that Pinterest at minimum owed the women an apology and due compensation.

“Like so many tech companies that are posting messages of solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Pinterest’s actions undermine the company’s own words,” said Color of Change’s campaign director Jade Magnus Ogunnaike.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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