[Issue 080] Celebrating International Women's Day
Happy International Women's Day!
Welcome to this Friday edition of the newsletter, just so we could talk about companies celebrating women on International Women's Day.
Honestly, I'm torn about companies inserting themselves into the conversation.
At best, companies that are truly committed to gender equity in-house use the day to raise awareness of important issues, support causes we care about and celebrate women. At worst, companies use this day—and the rest of Women's History Month—to simply appear committed to important social justice issues in order to make a profit.
Either way, many would argue that any advertising related to a day like this is exploitive.
And, I can't say that I disagree.
However, I am a sucker for a feel good video in the form of a commercial. (Sorry, not sorry!)
My current favorite is the latest "Dream Crazy" series by Nike. It's narrated by Serena Williams and shows a series of clips of women who have broken barriers in sports.
If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend it:
Of course, while I am able to appreciate and find inspiration in these women's stories, it's impossible for me to enjoy the ads without thinking of the many ways in which Nike has demonstrated its lack of commitment to gender equity from within. In the past the company has come under fire for poor management of its supply chain.
More recently, however, is the company's lawsuit filed by former female employees for pay discrimination and mismanagement of sexual harassment cases. Last week the company lost its first attempt to prevent the case from becoming a class-action lawsuit, which could result in 500 more women joining the suit. (I'll certainly be tracking the case along the way.)
Then there are other companies that don't even try to mask their attempt to capitalize on International Women's Day. A couple favorites from 2018 include:
McDonald's changing its logo from an M to a W, "in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere."
Johnie Walker introducing Jane Walker Black Label. "We are proud to toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.” $1 from each purchase of course goes to "organizations championing women’s causes.”
Egregious examples aside, I don't have a problem with companies trying to make important statements on days like today. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by ads, and I'd personally rather see more that inspire me.
What I don't want, however, is for companies to jump into conversations that they are not truly invested in. That applies to both the superficial attempts and the most inspired, authentic ones.
While it's important for companies to continue to speak up on important issues, it's even more important to me that they start by focusing their energy and resources on addressing issues from within. It's then up to us to hold them accountable.
Hit reply to this email and share some of the best and worst International Women's Day ads you come across today!
Nevertheless, a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology, commissioned female illustrators from around the world to produce posters of women in STEM. They are beautiful and free for anyone to download and print. (Hello, teachers!)
You can learn more about each of these women HERE.
Also, I'm low-key obsessed with Ibtihaj Muhammad, the U.S. Olympic Medalist for fencing and had to share a recent tweet from her:
Holdout Jeff Bezos Confronted By Amazon Moms Demanding Day Care. A group of hundreds of working mothers who are employees of Amazon and other companies, self-titled “Momazonians”, have increased the push for Amazon to provide a back up day care benefit for its employees. Amazon has avoided providing this benefit for years, even after consistent demand from employees, and while other major tech companies have provided the same benefit for years. The group is scheduled to meet with senior managers in the coming weeks. // BLOOMBERG
An Online Tool To Catch Workplace Sexual Predators This article discusses how there are new organizations like the Silent Choir Project, JDoe, and Callisto that offer website and mobile apps that help survivors of workplace sexual harassment to connect and explore legal options together. [PAYWALL] // WSJ
The Tech Giant Fighting Anti-Vaxxers Isn’t Twitter or Facebook. It’s Pinterest. Pinterest has taken a stance that other major social media platforms won't. The company now blocks anti-vaccination searches across the entire site and delete all anti-vaccination content that its bots can detect. // FAST COMPANY
5 Important Efforts By Black Women To Boost Diversity In Tech, Media, and Finance. This article discusses how black Americans have a higher unemployment rate compared to other racial groups’ unemployment rates, but then provides 5 start ups by black women who are attempting to solve this employment gap and help people of color find jobs. Featured is BLCK VC by Sydney Sykes, Mimconnect by Netta Dobbins, Knac by Ariel Lopez, Tech Stack’d by Bria Sullivan, and #blkcreatives by Melissa Kimble. // FAST COMPANY
The Trauma Floor: The Secret Lives of Facebook Moderators in America. This article is about how employees in Facebook’s moderator program, who are employees of Cognizant, a client that works with Facebook to staff its moderators have been suffering from increased rates of panic attack, depression, and other mental health issues as a direct result of viewing incredibly violent and disturbing media. The author, Casey Newton, interviews a dozen current and former Facebook moderators over 3 months to shine a light on the injustices these employees face. // THE VERGE
[BONUS] Check out this podcast episode that provides an overview of everything you want to know about Facebook moderators. // TODAY EXPLAINED
A New Benefit: Some Companies Help Workers Pay Down Student Loans. Student loan debt has been steadily rising for over a decade now, and employers are catching on to this rising employee strain. Fidelity Investments started a recruitment opportunity by providing the benefit of contributions to an employee’s student loans that was incredibly popular among employees. While this benefit is popular among those who have it, only 4% of employers offer the benefit. // NPR
Virgin Atlantic Drops Mandatory Makeup For Female Cabin Crew. Virgin Atlantic previously had a policy that all female cabin crew must wear makeup, but as of 2019 they no longer have to. Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic added other changes in their rules for female crew members, including a pair of pants provided automatically and not upon request, and other rules that now make it so female crew members don't have to spend a considerable amount of time, effort, and money on their appearance for their jobs. // THE GUARDIAN
The headlines were curated with the help of ABL's badass intern, Lora.
“None of us are looking for a handout. We’re just looking for a level playing field.”
- MaryAnne Gilmartin, on being a woman in real estate
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