The Period Underpants Company Sounds Like a Bad Place to Work
Things that make you THINX again.
Another day, another barn-burner of a thing that blows up the spot of a newish, buzzy startup by revealing its shady underbelly. This time, it’s THINX, the underpants made for people who have periods.
Miki Agrawal recently stepped down as CEO and has taken on a new role as “SHE-E-O.” In the wake of her departure, Racked published a scathing look at the inner workings of the company, revealing that it is maybe not the best place to work.
You’d think that a company seemingly built on feminist ideals would be one that was actually supportive of the women it employed, but the tales from inside the company paint a very different picture.
In interviews over the past month with a half-dozen current and former employees, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, all described a company culture in which substandard pay, flimsy benefits, and scarce perks are endured in exchange for working toward a mission they truly believe in. Almost all referred to the team as a “family,” yet say their work was routinely impeded by Agrawal’s erratic behavior and refusal to shoulder blame for problems with the business while taking credit — often in very public forums — for its successes.
A quick perusal of the company’s Glassdoor reviews reveals very quickly a company beset with management issues and overworked employees who are struggling to reconcile THINX’s public-facing image with what actually happens behind closed doors. Agrawal comes off as a mercurial leader; company policies like vacation time and health insurance were communicated only via hastily-written emails. There was no HR department, so resolving disputes was left to the discretion of the employees. Also, the maternity leave was atrocious.
The company’s parental leave policies were also galling, say sources, in light of Thinx’s proudly feminist stance: two weeks leave at full pay plus one week at half pay for the birthing parent, and one week leave at full pay plus one week at half pay for the non-birthing parent.
Negotiating for pay — a skill that everyone should have and be unafraid to use — was a nightmare, with employees being told that they were “ungrateful” for asking for more.
She treated it “as if it were selfish to take a salary representative of your worth,” says another. While yearly raises were given based on performance and revenue, the dollar amount was considered non-negotiable, and, says a third source, the only employees who ever successfully argued for additional money were two of the few white men who worked at the company.
For some more insight on how THINX works, please consider this thread. There are an awful lot of tweets in there, so if you’re so inclined, take a look.
i’ve never spoken about my experiences with thinx bc they were too humiliating/upsetting to talk about publicly https://t.co/toRa3gNQqi
Everything about the inner-workings of the company sounds very, very bad — a version of Silicon Valley’s aggressive, constantly-iterating, “visionary” startup culture filtered through the lens of ostensibly feminist values. It’s great to have vision and to be uncompromising in your pursuit of said vision. But vision doesn’t have to come at the cost of your employees’ well-beings or their rights.
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