Miki Agrawal, co-founder and self-proclaimed "SHE-EO" of Thinx "period panties," is being sued by former employees for sexual harassment.
Thinx is a "for women by women" company that manufactures ultra-absorbent "period underwear" which can hold the same amount of blood as two tampons (depending on style), and have been lauded by women and trans men as a great alternative to pads, tampons and menstrual cups. From the feminist imagery used in its advertising to its global initiative to help women around the world, Thinx prides itself on being progressive both in its business practices as well as the products it manufactures.
However, recent allegations of rampant misconduct, abuse and hypocrisy from former employees against Agrawal appear to be telling a much different story of what happens behind the scenes at Thinx that directly contradicts its "female empowerment" brand message.
According to Racked, 10 of the company’s 35 employees have left Thinx since January, and among them was 26-year-old former PR head Chelsea Leibow. Leibow is the woman who pressed charges against Agrawal for sexual harassment, citing that her former boss seemed to have an "obsession" with her breasts.
The complaint filed against Agrawal by Leibow (and echoed by her formers) is definitely not short, and alleges: commenting on employee's breasts; detailing her own sexual exploits; expressing interest in entering a sexual relationship with one of her employees; touching an employee’s breasts,;asking an employee to expose herself; changing clothes in front of employees; videoconferencing employees while without clothes,;and sharing naked photos of herself and others. (Some of these accusations were detailed in reporting on The Cut here and here.)
Agrawal called the accusations "baseless" and with "absolutely no merit," according to Racked.
These alleged problems were further exacerbated due to the fact that Thinx did not have an HR department at all until last spring when Agrawal decided to appoint two “Culture Queens” to field employee complaints. Neither woman had any HR training and were appointed by Argawal because they "brought a lot of positive high vibration to the office." According to Racked, the "Culture Queens" simply served as sounding boards for venting employees who did not want to risk their jobs by taking their complaints about Argawal to the COO, and apparently were in no way a suitable substitute for HR.
Another example of Thinx's hypocrisy was their problematic maternity leave policy. According to Racked, the policy only allowed mothers two weeks leave at full pay, plus one week at half pay, and one week leave at full pay, plus one week at half pay for their partner. That's a pitiful amount of time for any company, let alone one with such an outwardly feminist message.
Agrawal defends the former policy by insisting that when it was put in place, none of her employees were pregnant. Now that some of her remaining employees are having children (Agrwal herself is pregnant), the policy has changed to give mothers five weeks of paid leave.
After Miki Agrawal resigned as CEO earlier this month, she penned an essay on Medium entitled "My Thinx Ride" that addressed mistakes she has made as head of a fast-growing company, as well as the serious accusations brought on to her by former employees. She writes that she came to realize that she is "not the best suited for the operational CEO duties" and that she now looks forward to "potentially step into a new role and handle front facing duties."
Always on brand, Agrawal concluded her "resignation essay" by saying, "Thanks for hearing me out and being a part of this journey, as messy as it is (but it’s not messy in your underwear, because THINX really works!)."