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Make Them Pay

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Published by: Olivia Brown

10th February 2014

Last year world-renowned magazine Elle teamed up with a number of ad agencies to re-brand feminism to start a ‘conversation about feminism, what it means and more importantly, what it means to [their readers]’. This produced some fantastic campaigns to get people talking, most notable of which was the ‘Make Them Pay’ campaign created by advertising ‘Agency of the Decade’ Mother London.

Dutyfy spoke to the Communications Director at Mother London to find out more: “Elle approached three ad agencies, ourselves, Brave and Wieden + Kennedy in their quest to rebrand feminism or question whether that was even a possibility. Each agency was paired with a consultant on feminism and we were teamed up with the Feminist Times. We began this relationship with an intense four-hour meeting, between ourselves, Elle and the Feminist Times; a room of 2 men and 11 women who all considered ourselves as feminists, whilst not being able to agree on what exactly that means. Typically, Elle UK’s readers consider themselves feminists and we wanted something that would appeal and aid them, whilst staying away from the negative, militant image of the 70s feminist; searching to define a modern feminist rather than a bra-burning, long-armpit-hair-wearing feminist. What we wanted to achieve was to find one single thing that we could agree on to campaign, something to have a call to action for. We rested up the idea of the pay gap.

Whilst it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on gender, sexuality, religion, race or creed, there is a difference of about 15-17% in the pay between men and women at Executive level and over 20% at Director Level. As a strong, female-led agency here at Mother London we thought we would be a solid platform for launching this campaign. It is the most British of taboos, that we as a nation do not talk about our salaries, our American counterparts are much more open. This made for the basis of a very simple campaign: getting people to talk about pay. We created makethempay.co.uk which allows users to input their generalised profession, position and salary, the website then generates how much a male counterpart would be paid more. This can then be tweeted and shared, men are also invited to support the campaign, use the website and start talking about pay.

The pay gap is largely due to an endemic prejudice, that women are a risk in the workplace because of pregnancies and the idea that a rise in career success, or that ‘career jump’ takes place in the late 20s, early 30s, the same time that many women also choose to bare children. This is a redundant prejudice today however and needs to be dismissed; we are a totally flexible society now, people are completely efficient working from home and are more focussed on improvement to lifestyle than a long career in one place. The job security in one company, with pensions etc. is no longer significant, people have portfolio careers where they are more flexible and move jobs more frequently, therefore having a family and career is also more flexible, closing the gap between men and women: something pay should reflect.

The success of this campaign was the ease involved with taking part. It went absolutely bananas on social media with thousands and thousands of participants, getting people to talk to their bosses and getting both men and women to try out the website. Politics very quickly came into it, Jo Swinson the equalities minister for the Lib Dems very quickly backed us, with Nick Clegg following suit. We achieved huge national newspaper coverage with the campaign quickly becoming the most populist campaign we’ve ever led. 80 million people worldwide have been involved showing the reach of the campaign, from features on BBC Global to a Danish Broadcaster. George Osbourne is now on board with the Prime Minister lending his support later this year.

What’s really exciting is the potential influence on legislation, Jo Swinson has connected us with the Think Act Report getting more and more businesses to sign up and start talking about equal pay. And it has been something that University students have enjoyed writing their dissertations about. With hundreds of large businesses such as Tesco are on board, we might start to get somewhere with this conversation about equal pay!”

Last year, Mother London hosted a fascinating feminism debate with some fantastic speakers including a very heavily-pregnant Jo Swinson, Laura Jordan Bambach, President of D&AD and Ruby Tandoh from The Great British Bake-Off, watch the video below. The support that the campaign has had is a real tribute to the creative ideas of Elle, the Feminist Times and Mother London, and with the PM behind them from early 2014 we hope that many more people will be honest about pay and the gap will start to close – if you haven’t visited makethempay.co.uk make sure you try it out now, tweet it and let us know the difference by using @Dutyfy and #DutyfyDiscussions. ‘If he does the same job, ask him his salary’, talk to your boss and make your pay fair!

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