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Sugar-Coated Social Issues: The Wage Gap

When it comes to fueling conversations that bring attention to important topics, culturally relevant moments provide some of our favorite opportunities to speak up.

So first, Happy Halloween, a holiday we have not only been celebrating in our offices since last week, but have been thinking about for a while as a moment to raise awareness for a seemingly unrelated issue.

The Idea

It’s no secret that, on average, women earn less than men—$0.80 on the dollar, nationally. And yet for some reason, it can be difficult to truly envision how unfair this gap really is.

So, in partnership with the Women’s Foundation, we conducted a social experiment that took the issue to the ultimate experts-in-fairness: kids. In A Scary Truth: The Wage Gap, adorable young trick-or-treaters are outraged when they realize the girls receive less Halloween candy than the boys.

“We love this project because it illustrates how the gender pay gap violates the most basic principle of fairness that children grasp intuitively,” said Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation. “We hope this calls attention to the fact that women are still not paid equally for equal work—and the solutions that can finally help close the gender pay gap once and for all.”

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When the trick-or-treaters show up at the Scary Truth house, they aren’t greeted by a friendly parent in a vampire costume but instead by a businessman in a suit who shamelessly gives more and better candy to the boys than the girls, children of Barkley employees and friends who participated in the experiment without knowing its purpose.

The kids aren’t cool with the discrepancy. “We deserve that one,” declare the girls while pointing to the oversized lollipops the boys receive. Another girl says, “They’re both people, they should get the same amount.”

Why It Matters

The work supports the efforts of the Women’s Foundation and the American Association of University Women, to close the wage gap with programs like salary negotiation training and best practices for employers.

“Our hope is that we can play a small part in getting a generation of women the tools they need so these little girls grow up and never hear the term wage gap,” says Katy Hornaday, executive creative director of Barkley.

The Scary Truth: The Wage Gap also notes that women of color face even wider pay disparities. For example, November 1 is Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day, marking the day when Latina women’s earnings finally catch up to what men earned the previous year. Latinas typically earn only 53 cents for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic men and must work nearly 23 months to earn what white men earn in 12 months.

The Outcome

Of course we would never really leave these adorable children high and dry on Halloween. At the end of each exchange, our CEO offered them a pre-written letter containing a full size candy bar for them and a strongly worded message about ending the wage gap for their elected representative.

See the video here.

jennifer mazi

October 31, 2018

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