The Idea Village, one of the organizing groups behind New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
(NOEW), has released a statement regarding the cancellation of THINX founder Miki Agrawal's appearance at a women's summit at the conference.
Agrawal originally was scheduled
to give a "fireside chat" at the summit, which highlights issues women face in the workplace. The high-profile founder of THINX, which makes underwear designed to disrupt the lucrative
menstrual pad and tampon market, was known for her colorful interviews
and quirky (some might say eccentric) behavior.
But this week, news broke of sexual harassment allegations
against Agrawal from a former employee — a serious charge for anyone, but especially for a figurehead who espouses feminist ideals and women's empowerment. The allegations follow a flurry of criticism from current and former employees about poor working conditions for the company's women
, including inadequate maternity leave, a toxic office culture and low pay.
In its statement announcing Agrawal's removal from the NOEW schedule, organizers said:
"The Idea Village confirmed today that Miki Agrawal and THINX will no longer be participating at the 9th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. ... The programming for the Women's Summit has been updated with this change. The three-hour session is designed to provide an opportunity for female professionals to reflect on and discuss how to overcome the challenges women uniquely face in the workplace.
We look forward to providing all our attendees from the Greater New Orleans area and beyond with a dynamic, inclusive environment in which they can develop their professional skills, discuss new ideas, gain new contacts, and learn more about emerging trends in entrepreneurship and business.”
Idea Village's statement did not explain whether Agrawal had been dropped from the program by organizers or whether she resigned, and did not cite a specific reason for her absence. However, it seems reasonable to conclude that her departure may be linked to this week's news, especially in a year when NOEW has gone out of its way to highlight its inclusiveness for women. Statistics distributed to media cited high levels of participation from women founders at the festival and in its pitch competitions.
A representative for Idea Village did not immediately return a request for further clarification.
The women's summit
will continue as scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 23 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.