LONDON – For the last couple of weeks, several trending hashtags related to International Women’s Day and Women History Month have flooded social media. Several companies have also participated in the annual lip service, pledging allegiance to the causes of gender diversity and equality. Amid all this, one Twitter Bot has emerged as an unlikely hero by naming and shaming companies for showing double standards when it comes to gender pay gap.
A bot account is one which has auto-generated responses to certain triggers. In this case, the trigger was International Women’s Day posts. In its bio, the account named PayGapApp warns corporate entities from UK that it will retweet their gender pay gap status when they post a tweet about women’s participation in the workplace, declaring that it aims to #BreakTheBias. The bot account was created by Francesca Lawson, a copywriter and social-media manager in Manchester, England, and her partner Ali Fensome, a software consultant.
Despite being created earlier this month, the account has already made over 3000 tweets and has around 256,000 followers. This bot has been retweeting all such posts in which organisations talk about their women employees or their DEI initiatives. The retweet has a simple text, “In this organisation, women’s median hourly pay is 35.5% lower than men’s.” The relevant data was pulled out from official public records as the UK has made it mandatory for all companies with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap data.
Hilarity ensued at first when the Twitterati realised the work being done by this bot. Many of the companies who were called out for their dismal pay gaps chose to delete their tweets that led them being tagged by the bot account. This was followed by serious discussions on the topic, and the people thanking the creators for revealing the hypocrisy of the corporate world.
One woman’s reaction to the threads summed up the reaction of the entire Twitterverse on the topic. “Today’s #IWD2022 amusement – watching companies scramble to delete their fluffy IWD Tweets after @PayGapApp re-tweets them – but with their gender pay-gap stats attached. I deeply salute whoever thought of this. It’s deadly genius,” wrote Twitter user Caitlyn Moran.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, co-creator of the bot Francesca Lawson had directly addressed businesses when she tweeted, “We don’t need more empty gestures of ’empowerment’ and ‘celebration’ – but there’s still time to rethink your plans!” She went to list down five questions that conscientious businesses must ask themselves regarding their gender parity metrics and policies.