Female-friendly brand THINX, a four-year-old start-up famous for its outspoken self-styled “SHE-EO” Miki Agrawal, has attracted further controversy with employees laying multiple criticisms at the firm.
The brand, who retail period underwear, have been accused, by former and current employees, of offering substandard pay, “flimsy benefits” such as short parental leave periods, and insulting salary negotiations – reports Racked.
One former employee spoke to Racked: “Whenever anybody would try to negotiate with [Agrawal] she would go back to the fact that we’re young and just be like, ‘Oh, you’re in your 20s. You don’t need a lot of money.”
Another wrote: “It honestly felt like a middle school environment: pitting people against each other, calling us petty children and [saying that we were] immature and that we're all these millennials that don't know anything.”
On Glassdoor, on employee wrote: “The team encourages self-advocacy, and as long as you work hard and consistently wave your ‘freak-flag,’ you can go from an entry-level team member to someone who gets to work closely with the Trump-like CEO, in a matter of months.”
Racked reports that "several sources say they either took a pay cut or accepted a below-market-rate salary”, and that if employees dared to negotiate for more money, they were dismissed as “ungrateful” by Agrawal.
Employees accuse Agrawal of engineering the firm’s positive Glassdoor reviews.
Agrawal has also been accused of being hypocritical – and not espousing the feminist ethos her branding appears to support.
In January 2016, Agrawal told a writer from The Cut: “I only started relating to being a feminist, literally, right when I started my company.”
The company has also been accused of having lewd adds that do not fit in with, what many supporters of feminist movements would consider, the image of modern feminism.
Responding to criticisms in a statement, THINX said: “Our leadership is getting to the bottom of these allegations, and, as ever, we are actively working to address and improve our corporate culture. We look forward to updating the community as new leaders and corporate processes are put into place. Thank you, everyone, for bearing with us in the meantime.”
Agrawal announced that she would step down as CEO but there is still work to do, in a company that lacks concrete HR guidelines.
Judith Ohikuare, writer at Refinery29, argues that even if THINX had solid HR guidelines, recent events at Uber have shown that aggressive corporate cultures can compromise employee wellness.
She wrote: “HR is hardly a panacea — just ask former Uber employee Susan Fowler. In the absence of structural checks, employees will take their cues for what is and isn’t acceptable from the top.”