In this age of pussy-grabbing, it’s nice to know when companies that market and sell products to women are also empowering female employees internally. But there’s often real tension between the public and private persona of businesses that use feminism as a marketing tool. It’s one thing to say your brand is all about YAS QUEEN, but refuse maternity leave or the right to unionize to your employees. Here are five companies guilty of patching the glass ceiling back up, one sarcastic “You go, girl!” at a time.
Image via Nasty Gal
You’d think a company that sells inspired, hip clothing for women and was founded by #GIRLBOSS Sofia Amoruso would be a great place for women to work. Think again. In 2013, four women sued the company for terminating their employment “because they were pregnant.” The suit claimed the company was in violation of California’s Pregnancy Discrimination Leave Law as well as the California Family Rights act, which gives 12 weeks off for maternity leave. The lawsuits are still pending.
While founder Amoruso, whom Business Insider credited with “making Feminism cool again,” forged ahead with her second book deal and a Netflix project, more scandals came about about the online retailer. Another employee, Farah Saberi filed a suit in 2015 for a firing related to a medical condition she suffered, which resulted in a lapse of health insurance. After a round of layoffs last year, Jezebel interviewed current and former employees searching for answers. One ex-employee confided, “I want the young women who are applying to Nasty Gal thinking it will be their dream job to know the truth behind the company’s external image of glitz and glamour. I saw too many incredibly hardworking, ambitious, and eager people lose so much self-confidence, self-worth, and motivation, including myself. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Nasty Gal’s Glassdoor profile lists the “Mission” as “We inspire women to discover their power to create an amazing life.” Its rating is only 2.8 out of 5.
Image via Anthropologie
Anthropologie’s mission statement is too good to be true. According to the site, it’s a “lifestyle brand that caters to creative, educated, and affluent 30- to 45-year-old women.” The employees tell a different tale. Wages are on the low end, even of the retail scale. Hourly salaries range from $9 to $12 an hour with a requirement to wear clothes from the high-end store while working there. Seasonal and part-time employees are not afforded benefits, with no plan or guarantee to be hired full-time.
A recent lawsuit claimed that the store was using call-in shifts to tentatively schedule workers without guarantee of pay. Another suit filed last year cited discrimination against a 57-year-old employee who was told that she was too old to be a manager. According to this former employee, workplace diversity is also an issue. With all those gauzy skirts, who has time to create a fair and even place to work?
Image via Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump is very proud of a new hashtag she dreamed up for her clothing company: #WomenWhoWork. She even has a book coming out that will advise women on “highly tactical, solution-oriented content for women in the office.” Yet her employees say that maternity leave was something they had to fight to get. Marisa Velez Kraxberger told Jezebel, “Our team—the ones who created #WomenWhoWork and the ones who the hashtag really stood for—fought long and hard to get her to finally agree to eight weeks paid maternity leave.” Kraxberger said of the hiring process, “When I asked about maternity leave [Ivanka] said she would have to think about it, that at Trump they don’t offer maternity leave, and that she went back to work just a week after having her first child.”
Image via 20th Century Fox
It should be no surprise that the company that both solidified our body image issues, our fall fashion inspo, and inspired The Devil Wears Prada would be a rough place to work a 9-to-5. Just like Andy in TDWP, the employees (the majority of whom are female) are overworked and underpaid. A 2013 lawsuit filed by former interns against Condé Nast, alleged that, “instead of following the law, Condé Nast relies on a steady stream of interns to perform entry-level work that contributes to its magazines’ operations and reduces its labor costs.” Perhaps the demise of magazines could have something to do with the company’s intense hours and upcoming “massive restructuring” (a.k.a. layoffs). But yes, continue to tell us women why Lupita Nyong’o is your “girl crush” and keep prescribing $4,000 purses as “essential fall fashion.”
Image via Wired
Everyone’s favorite hookup app may be invested in helping women (and men) meet that special someone, but it’s also been at the center of a serious sexual harassment lawsuit. Back in 2014, former VP Whitney Wolfe alleged “atrocious misogyny” at the start-up. The now-famous lawsuit cited that during Wolfe’s time at the matchmaking app, she was denied a co-founder title because she was a woman and called a “slut” and a “whore” by Tinder CMO Justin Mateen. Mateen resigned following the suit, and Wolfe received a $1M settlement.