Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut responded on Friday to allegations of gender discrimination and harassment at the company, telling employees in an email that “we have work to do” on pay equity and inclusion.
Chestnut’s email, which was seen by Insider, appeared to contradict internal messaging the company had sent just a day earlier.
He also said an independent pay equity study “found that gender and race/ethnicity are not statistically significant indicators of differences in pay, and that differences in pay can be attributed to those factors we’ve established within our compensation system that are fair and reasonable.”
But Chestnut’s email on Friday appeared to show the issues are more extensive than White’s initial email acknowledged.
Both messages came in response to the resignation of principal software engineer Kelly Ellis, who accused the company of “sexism and bullying” and gender pay discrimination when she quit on Wednesday.
“The fact of the matter is that it has led to some difficult conversations and brought up some serious issues, and I want to be clear about this: I don’t want any of our employees to have a negative experience working here, and I want to know about it when it happens so we can find the problems and fix them,” Chestnut said.
“I’m also hearing that some of you have already raised concerns or pointed out problems you’re experiencing, and we haven’t made enough progress in response,” he added.
“Because a sensitive situation was shared on social media, we felt it was important to talk directly with employees to make sure they know Mailchimp does not tolerate any type of mistreatment, including discrimination, bullying, or harassment,” a Mailchimp spokesperson told Insider in a statement. “We want to combine what is an important conversation with action steps.”
However, while Chestnut’s email encouraged employees to offer feedback through various channels, it offered no concrete steps beyond promising “regular updates.”
Are you a current or former Mailchimp employee with insight to share? We’d love to hear about your experiences there. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 503-319-3213), email (email@example.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.
Read the full email Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut sent to employees:
Subject: Hearing your concerns
Hi everyone, I’m following up on Robin’s email from yesterday because I know this has been hard for many of you, and I want you to know that I’m listening. I won’t share the confidential details or get into a back and forth about the specific situation that came up this week, but the fact of the matter is that it has led to some difficult conversations and brought up some serious issues, and I want to be clear about this: I don’t want any of our employees to have a negative experience working here, and I want to know about it when it happens so we can find the problems and fix them.
It has always been so important to Dan and me that Mailchimp is a company where all employees feel included, respected, and safe-a place where people can do their best, most creative work. Employees experiencing anything less is unacceptable to me and all of our leaders.
I’m hearing loud and clear that we have work to do, including needing greater transparency around pay equity and an intentional focus on inclusion. I want to address these issues head-on, and I know we’ll be stronger for it. I’m asking our leadership team to prioritize these issues and work with me to fix them. What we do needs to match what we say.
I would really appreciate your candid feedback to help us get there. I’m also hearing that some of you have already raised concerns or pointed out problems you’re experiencing, and we haven’t made enough progress in response. I want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and trust that we’ll make the right adjustments. Just as bullying, harassment, and discrimination won’t be tolerated-neither will retaliation or intimidation for speaking up.
I’m having office hours every day next week, and I’ve asked the entire executive team to hold office hours too. You can sign up here [LINK]. You’re also welcome to email me directly or message me on Slack. We’ve also heard that some of you would rather submit your feedback anonymously. That’s completely understandable, and we’re working on a new way to do that that guarantees confidentiality-will follow up with details next week.
We’re going to listen hard and change fast, responding to your feedback and taking action to invest in our culture and rebuild trust. You can expect regular updates on this. We know this will require work and focus beyond the next few weeks. We’re in it for the long haul. I hope you are too.
One final note: for many of us, the last few years have been a crash course in understanding how insidious forces like racism and sexism can show up in the workplace. I know I’ve learned a great deal, and with Cris Gaskin’s help, we’ve been intentional about better educating ELT to recognize these forces so we can address them. We’re still learning, but I feel better equipped to make the changes we need going forward.
Thank you all for your commitment to making Mailchimp a great place to work. I’m grateful for you.
Kelly Ellis, a principal software engineer at the email-marketing company Mailchimp, accused the company of gender discrimination and harassment in a series of tweets announcing her resignation Wednesday.
“Welp, I guess it’s official: I’m leaving my job. I dealt with sexism and bullying, and found out that I, as the only female principal [engineer], was paid less than the other (male) principals outside of Atlanta. I would not recommend friends work at Mailchimp, especially women,” Ellis tweeted.
“Honestly, this sucks, I really didn’t expect to quit today. A conversation about comp went really south. I’m an unhappy camper, but hopefully brighter things are on the horizon,” she added.
Ellis and Mailchimp did not respond to requests for comment.
Ellis has garnered a large following on social media and has frequently spoken publicly about gender and racial discrimination.
In 2017, she and other female engineers sued Google – where Ellis worked for more than four years, according to her LinkedIn profile – accusing the company of paying women less than men, and a court is currently deciding whether to grant the lawsuit class action status. (In a separate case, Google agreed this month to pay $2.6 million to workers to settle racial and gender bias claims brought by the US Department of Labor).
Ellis’s resignation follows a series of high-profile departures by women and people of color from tech firms including Google, Pinterest, and Coinbase over allegations of bias, discrimination, and harassment.
Are you a current or former Mailchimp employee with insight to share? We’d love to hear about your experiences there. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.