Each year brands, companies, and organizations around the world, keen to win favor with younger generations, tap into the International Women’s Day fanfare of celebrating their women employees and their #empowerment. And each year, women’s collective eyebrows are raised thinking the same thing: “Show us your receipts.”
But this year on March 8, something different happened. Something that no one saw coming. This year, when the expected femvertising exploded in pink clouds across social media, a Twitter account was waiting, armed with gender pay gap data.
As companies across the UK took to the social media platform to raise their own profiles by highlighting their International Women’s Day initiatives using certain keywords or hashtags including #IWD and #BreakTheBias, the so-called Gender Pay Gap Bot, would retweet with a further bit of information: the company’s gender pay gap. This led to some very awkward situations and some deleted tweets.
In the UK, companies with 250 or more employees are legally required to report gender pay gap data which is freely available to the public online. But that’s mountains of data and it certainly isn’t as easily digestible as a cheeky quote retweet.
The Australian and German governments have also ordered companies to report on their pay gaps, but the US is still lagging, where women’s annual salaries were 17.7% lower than men’s in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That gap gets even wider for Black and Hispanic women.
Gender Pay Gap Bot was created by Francesca Lawson, a copywriter and social media manager and her partner, Ali Fensome, a software consultant, to help thwart performative activism.
“The bot exists in order to empower employees and members of the public to hold these companies to account for their role in perpetuating inequalities,” said Lawson, 27. “It’s no good saying how much you empower women if you have a stinking pay gap.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, men earned 7.9% more than women in 2021 in the UK. But behind that figure are wage gaps of varying degrees. One of the worst offenders, according to the bot, is Young’s Pubs, a company in which women's median hourly pay is 73.2% lower than men's.
In this organisation, women's median hourly pay is 73.2% lower than men's. https://t.co/JkecLgo79P— Gender Pay Gap Bot (@PayGapApp) March 8, 2022
Hilarious as the account is, it also highlights how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. The gender wage gap, which stands on average at 23% globally, is just one of the ways in which women are systematically discriminated against worldwide.
In 2015, the 193 member countries of the United Nations (UN) came together to commit to the UN’s 17 Global Goals, a roadmap seeking to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes. Goal 5 is focused on gender equality and sets the ambitious target of achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls everywhere by 2030. Seven years later, we’re not even close to achieving that and the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated existing inequalities.
As of this year, there were only 15 female heads of state in the entire world. Shockingly sexist laws persist. Women and girls will suffer the most because of the climate crisis. Two-thirds of the approximately 781 million illiterate adults worldwide are women. 23 girls are married before they reach 18 every single minute. In the US alone, 1 in 5 women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape. The International Criminal Court has only ever successfully convicted one person of rape. In some parts of the world, babies are killed if they are born female.
All of these facts boil down to the same thing: gender inequality. And that won’t be solved by hypocritical corporate fauxminism. The savage Twitter bot is great, but it should just be the start.