Aerica Shimizu Banks catalyzed a movement with Ifeoma Ozoma by calling out discrimination at Pinterest and the nondisclosure agreements that silence fellow whistleblowers.
"Things will not get better unless we get honest," Aerica Shimizu Banks declared during her 2019 TEDxTalk. The former White House appointee launched over a dozen diversity programs and BEACON: The DC Women Founders Initiative during her six years at Google. The quote proved true after she joined Pinterest in 2019 to lead federal policy alongside Ifeoma Ozoma (who is also on this list). Banks was severely underpaid and stifled professionally despite a resume that included Oxford, Princeton and a Truman fellowship. Both Black women resigned in May 2020 but publicly remained silent about alleged racism, sexism, pay discrimination, and retaliation for reporting these issues internally because of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) they signed. When Ozoma called out the hypocrisy of Pinterest's Black Lives Matter statement, Banks risked everything to do the same. "This was about integrity and not letting the company get away with painting themselves as this space for kindness and positivity when they had completely denigrated, abused, and retaliated against us," Banks told the Guardian. Their bravery inspired shareholders to sue Pinterest's board and top executives for damaging the company with an alarmingly toxic culture. Changing one company wasn't enough for Banks, who contributed to the Silenced No More Act, which protects all California employees from NDAs if they speak up about workplace discrimination. Banks was stunned to be embraced instead of exiled by the tech world but found a calling with her consulting firm, Shiso, which takes an intersectional approach to tech, policy, and business solutions.