Happy International Women’s Day 2022! Today, we look at how one Twitter bot is working to #BreakTheBias through a combination of creativity and technology to hold brands accountable for gender equality in the workplace.
Gender Pay Gap Bot is a UK-based, anonymous Twitter AI bot whose only job is to retweet a company’s gender pay gap following businesses’ tweets about International Women’s Day. The charge is spelled out plainly in their Twitter account’s banner: “Stop posting platitudes. Start fixing the problem.” The account began in 2021 with 1,400 followers and now boasts over 113K and counting.
The bot was developed by copywriter Francesca Lawson and software developer Ali Fensome to help ensure gender pay gap data is not forgotten on International Women’s Day. The goal of the bot is simple: apply pressure on employers to improve hiring practices and pay everyone fairly.
The bot uses a string of code to locate company names based on a series of keywords related to International Women’s Day. The bot matches that with compensation data on a government site. (The UK requires companies with more than 250 employees to make pay rates publicly available.) If a match is made between a company with available data and a disingenuous tweet, the bot retweets the company’s message, adding the truth about how the business pays its employees.
The bot does not discriminate. Brands spanning industries ranging from finance to education to fashion have all been called out by the bot. Some Twitter users are even keeping track of the companies that delete tweets following the unwanted attention. Not all organizations are ashamed of the retweets, though. The bot has helped amplify messages from brands that pay employees equally, and even a few that pay women more than men.
Gender inequality is a complicated issue and many people believe that the media has a responsibility to address it: approximately 57% of adults agree, according to The Fragile (Im)balance report by GWI. The same report told us that 46% of women and 52% of men believe that brands have a responsibility to address gender inequality issues, including the gender pay gap.
The US Census Bureau finds that women in the US earn, on average, 30% less than men, and that gap widens when age and race are factored in. The Gender Pay Gap Bot is an example of how individuals are ready to put brands on blast when appropriate, pushing these companies to fulfill societal responsibilities.
Companies no longer have a choice. Transparency is a must — especially given modern consumers’ penchant for researching the products they buy and companies they support. But transparency is only the first step. Businesses must suss out and mend gender inequalities in hiring and pay, communicate those practices to their communities, and welcome the dialogue that may follow.
Last year on our blog, we explained that authenticity is key, and being inauthentic is a great way to secure negative attention. Forward-thinking brands know that callouts like the ones the Gender Pay Gap Bot is doling out are teachable moments. They use them as stepping stones to fix what’s broken. The leaders who accept this criticism constructively can turn them into improvements that can result in real, accountable progress.
Thanks to contributor and researcher Carli Gernot for helping develop this post.