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Whistleblower protections are spreading across the country, sparked by Ifeoma Ozoma

After breaking her NDA to speak out about her time at Pinterest, Ozoma helped draft and cosponsor California’s groundbreaking Silenced No More Act.

Whistleblower protections are spreading across the country, sparked by Ifeoma Ozoma
[Illustration: Agata Nowicka]

This story is part of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 2022. Explore the full list of innovators who broke through this year—and had an impact on the world around us.

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When Ifeoma Ozoma went public with her allegations of racial discrimination against Pinterest in 2020, she shattered her former employer’s reputation as the rare tech company committed to racial and gender diversity. Having worked in global public policy and governmental relations roles at Facebook and Google and as a public policy and social impact manager at Pinterest, Ozoma has now become one of the most prominent advocates for reforming the tech industry (and other sectors) by empowering employees to speak out without repercussions.

After breaking her NDA to share her experiences at Pinterest, Ozoma—along with fellow whistleblower and former colleague Aerica Shimizu Banks—helped draft and sponsor California’s Silenced No More Act, which bars the use of confidentiality agreements to silence workers who experience any kind of harassment or discrimination. Since the bill passed in California last year, the state of Washington has adopted (and enacted) similar legislation. To expand Silenced No More’s protections to workers in other states, Ozoma and other advocates have successfully used shareholder proposals to pressure companies like Salesforce and Apple into revising their employment agreements to enshrine workers’ ability to speak out.

Ozoma also uses her two-year-old consulting practice, Earthseed, to help guide would-be whistleblowers (she published an online Tech Worker Handbook with tips and advice last fall) and pitch companies on the business case for enabling employees to keep them accountable. “Now that companies are being forced to operate under a patchwork of state laws [including Silenced No More and similar measures],” she says, “they have no choice but to explain why they wouldn’t extend these protections to the rest of their workers. What are they hiding that will eventually cost shareholders?”

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About the author

Pavithra Mohan is a staff writer for Fast Company.

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