What Brands Can Learn from International Women’s Day 2022

This year, International Women’s Day was an exercise in schooling brands that post empty, shiny stuff on social without the goods to back it up. 

You see, International Women’s Day is not – despite what many people think – a celebration of how great women are, but an important rallying cry about the inequality women are still facing in many, many walks of life. 

So, turning your logo pink: not getting it. Taking a picture of all the women you can find in your office: not getting it. Interviewing your CEO about how much he values women? Not getting it.

I understand that there’s always pressure to post. Our bosses want us to say something because everyone is saying something. But if it’s not a considered, authentic and close-held value of the company’s, it’s not for you. 

The Gender Pay Gap Bot

That was my moral pitch; this is the even bigger reason brands should be thinking twice about using IWD for empty content. Women. Are not. Stupid.

For the last year, copywriter Francesca Lawson and developer Ali Fensom have been carefully refining a Twitter bot that pulls government data on gender pay disparities in businesses with over 250 employees (which legally have to disclose). So, on International Women’s Day 2022, when a company tweeted something about it, this bot cross-referenced with the data to post its pay gap. And put it on blast. 

Oooooooooooh, it wasn’t pretty. The worst pay gap I saw was something like 70%. When the business had just posted its very best about female empowerment. A truly awful day to work in social media.

It can be so hard to make change happen. It doesn’t usually come about quickly or easily. So, if your organisation is still working on its pay gap or diversity, save the celebration until you’ve had results you’re proud of. You can even share your progress, as long as you’re open about the challenges still to overcome. 

But you don’t have to post. I promise, no one is sat waiting for your IWD tweet. I think there are a lot of people wishing they’d given it a miss this year. 

Getting International Women’s Day right next year

The good news is: we’ve got a whole year to work on a great IWD 2023 post. A post that is just the cherry on top of a genuine campaign of effort and learning. Sweeeeeet!

There’s a lot of meaningful change that we can achieve in a year. 

1. Ask the women in your organisation

What do they feel about the equity in your industry? Let them have their say, take note and come up with ideas for how you can change things internally or in your field.

Is there anything they’d like to do for IWD next year? Crowd-sourcing a campaign or activity beats a random post your female employees look at and think, ‘Oh. Cheers.’

2. Take a long, hard look at the figures

If you’re a business over 250 people, you’re already reporting your pay stats to the government. You may have even got caught up in the bot attack. Maybe that’s why you’re here.

Whether the numbers are public or they need to be run by your finance team, learn those numbers. Just acknowledging – not fighting – the facts is important.

The 70% gap I mentioned earlier was for an airline. A man in the comments said, “Yeah but that’s because most of the pilots are men.” My dude. You are so very close. 

If your pay gap is embarrassing, don’t dismiss or excuse it. There are things to be done (making job descriptions more accessible, offering flexible working, changing your benefits, having standardised promotion processes, putting women on the board) to make women a) want to work for you and b) thrive. 

Of course, the easiest way is…pay them. 

3. Celebrate diversity, inclusion and equity even when no one is looking

You can celebrate the people in your organisation any day of the year, in many wonderful ways.

If you do that, the content will make itself and you’ll have too much material to post next year.

Remember where International Women’s Day came from

IWD started life during the suffrage movement. Iterations were organised all over the world by women demanding better working conditions and fairer pay. It wasn’t a celebration – it was activism. 

It’s still activism.