It’s Equal Pay Day, and This Twitter Bot Is Calling Out Companies That Pay Men More Than Women

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Organizations across the globe took to social media last week to show their support for International Women’s Day. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, for many companies, attaching a pithy #IWD2022 or #BreakTheBias hashtag to a carefully curated Instagram post or tweet is where their commitment to women begins and ends.

Juan Moyano | Getty Images

In the U.S. and elsewhere, the gender pay gap persists. Today, March 15, is Equal Pay Day in the U.S. — so chosen, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, because “This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.” Data from the Pew Research Center reveals that in 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, and that gap widens even more for some women of color. 

One British couple decided to call out the organizations that, quite literally, aren’t putting their money where their mouths are. Francesca Lawson, a copywriter and social-media manager in Manchester, England, and her partner Ali Fensome, a software consultant, created a Twitter bot, @PayGapApp, that retweets posts from companies, schools and nonprofits with International Women’s Day-specific keywords or hashtags alongside a note revealing how women’s pay compared to men’s within the organization. 

Unlike U.S. companies, those in Britain with 250 or more employees have been required to release information on salary differences between men and women each year since 2018. The vast amount of data, available to the public on a searchable government website, reveals that men working full-time in the country earned 7.9% more than women as of April 2021

Naturally, Twitter users and retweeted organizations alike had a lot to say about the Gender Pay Gap Bot’s revelations (or at least, those who didn’t delete the tweets calling them out did).

Related: How You Can Close The Pay Gap On #EqualPayDay

Where women are paid less than men

Post after post from Gender Pay Gap Bot demonstrates the stark disparity between women’s and men’s pay. At big-name management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company, women’s hourly pay is 22.3% lower than men’s. The statistic appears above the company’s retweeted post, which reads “Meet Francesca, ‘I believe that no mountain is too high to climb!'” and includes a video of a woman trekking through rocky terrain.

Twitter users did not hold back. 

“Keep climbing Francesca .. to another company,” one user wrote. Another quipped, “Watch your head on the summit — there’s a glass ceiling up there!” Still another commented, “It’s not like they tell other companies how they should be run or anything. It’s probably fine.” Inevitably, one user tried to claim that the gender pay gap is a myth propagated by differing life choices, but another user was quick to set the record straight: “You can very easily search ‘gender pay gap‘ on Google Scholar and learn about how it is, in fact, not a myth.”

Additionally, lingerie company Boux Avenue’s post, which includes an image of a lacy purple bra and reads, “Anyone obsessed with wearing purple atm? The official colour of International Women’s Month. We’ve got the perfect set for YOU! Say hello to Mackenna: super cute, comfy & totally season appropriate, what’s not to love?”, received some particularly pointed remarks when the bot revealed the organization pays women a median hourly wage that’s 31.4% lower than men’s. 

“I’m obsessed with equality and paying women what they’re worth,” one user commented. Another wrote, “Funny how international women’s day has become a marketing opportunity for companies who are actually exploiting women.” “What’s not to love is you underpaying women,” someone else chimed in. 

Some organizations, like Save the Children U.K., where women’s median hourly pay is 5% lower than men’s, opted to block the bot account, but that didn’t stop the comments from rolling in. “Deleted for 5%?,” one user wrote. “That is a really bad look.” Another added, “they didn’t delete but blocked the bot account which makes the tweet disappear from quote tweets that the blocked account made. If you go to their page its still there. imho even worse.”

Related: Why Leadership Is at the Crux of Closing the Gender Pay Gap

On the other side of the coin, some organizations used the bot’s retweet as an opportunity to express their commitment to do better. The bot retweeted financial institution GoCardless’s #IWD post spotlighting the company’s director of security and privacy risk, noting that women’s hourly median pay is 19.9% lower than men’s at the organization. 

One user wrote, “Oh wow, so many ways@GoCardless could do better by putting the spotlight on their 19.9% #GenderPayGap. If the stat is correct then feedback is a gift indeed, and action on #PayEquity #EqualPay #PayParity would be even better to #BreaktheBias.” GoCardless responded to the user, admitting, “We need to close that pay gap. We are progressing and our mean and median pay gap show a downward trend since 2019 with the median pay gap dropping significantly. We have also increased the proportion of women in our leadership population from 16% to 28% since 2019.” 

Similarly, when it was revealed that women’s hourly pay is 3.9% lower than men’s at English Heritage, a charity that manages historical sites like Stonehenge, the organization was quick to voice its support for transparency. “This is based on April 2020 data,” the English Heritage account wrote. “Since then, we’ve been working hard to reduce our pay gap & it is closing. But regardless of its size, a gap is still a gap and the charity is committed to eliminating it. Find out more https://bit.ly/3KsRNPG.”

Related: The Gender Wage Gap Inspires More Women to Create Their Own Paycheck

Where pay for men and women is equal

A much smaller sampling of posts featured organizations that have already prioritized equal pay for women and men. For example, men’s and women’s hourly pay is equal at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College — a rare occurrence users called out. “honestly one of the first ones i’ve seen,” one person wrote. Another commented, “Hurrah!!”

Where women are paid more than men

Though the majority of the posts highlight men’s higher earnings, there are a few surprising standouts. At Nottinghamshire Healthcare, women’s median hourly wage is 6.5% higher than men’s, prompting a slew of enthusiastic responses from Twitter users: “finally a win for the ladies,” “Well that’s good news. I’ve been waiting for this one!” and “At last. Is this the only one. Well done Notts Healthcare.” 

Likewise, at Marylebone Cricket Club, women’s median hourly wage is 15.5% higher than men’s, which elicited positive comments like, “That’s surprised me given their historic sexism, misogyny etc” and more skeptical ones: “It’s a women’s cricket club. Not falling for this again.” 

Finally, at Barnet Council, women’s median hourly wage is 25.5% higher than men’s. “i’m gonna be honest this was not something i expected,” one user wrote. “Hell yeah!” said another. 


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