Today, we flip our Golden Arches to celebrate the women who have chosen McDonald's to be a part of their story, like the Williams family. In the U.S. we're proud to share that 6 out of 10 restaurant managers are women. https://t.co/6z88OhjXpO pic.twitter.com/hXfOi3wWQf
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) March 8, 2018
On International Women's Day, a global celebration of women's achievements while pushing for gender equality, we need to remember who this day is actually intended for: women. Not brands.
In 2018, no celebration, holiday or day of service is complete without brands stepping in to make the day about them. This year, International Women's Day has received some very clever, dramatic reaches by the biggest brands to turn your activism into dollars. Most notable is McDonald's, which has turned its golden arches upside down to don activism drag for the day by becoming WcDonald's.
Across digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter, McDonald's has turned the "M" in its name upside down to "W" to illustrate its support of women and — apparently — how woke it is. Select locations will feature WcDonald's branding on packaging, while one of the restaurants in Lynwood, California, had its sign flipped, which has been owned by local Patricia Williams for 30 years. She runs the restaurants alongside her two daughters, which, admittedly, is quite awesome.
As a part of the campaign, McDonald's notes that six out of 10 of its US restaurant managers are women. This is big! But what's bigger? Income inequality, as women only make 83 percent of what men make, according to the Pew Research Center. Nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers are women, according to the National Women's Law Center. While McDonald's has bumped wages at company-owned restaurants from $7.25 to $10 an hour, most locations are franchised, where wages are set independently.
To further salt this wound, Trump appointees have canned a major lawsuit raised by the federal government against McDonald's, citing that the company is responsible for franchised locations harassing and firing employees who have gone on strike for higher wages. This is a win for McDonald's — and McDonald's alone. Are you loving it yet?
While WcDonald's may be the most glaring branded bid for womenly cash, it is far from alone: Google is featuring girl-power doodles and "top searched trends around women" while it continues to fight within the company and within the tech industry regarding gender equality (not to mention a recent gender pay lawsuit); Uber is promoting female drivers in South Pacific markets despite the company's ongoing gender discrimination woes; Johnnie Walker has switched to Jane Walker in the hopes of making the liquor less "intimidating" to women, a problem considering women who drink can be targeted by men; and even Ivanka Trump is getting in on the action, tweeting how we must "pledge to empower women" and syncing said pressing for progress on her company's website while bringing none of this progress in her father's White House. Business as usual, one could say.
In the grand American capitalist tradition, meaningful holidays and days of action are now well-intentioned ways to ask, "Would you like fries with that?": messages are made, but action is far away and frequently forgotten. Like the pinkwashing problem during Pride, this International Women's Day and Women's History Month are good reminders to hold those in power accountable in advancing equality. No little flip of a letter will change the world: do the work. Actually helping women, in this case, is what changes the world.