Great news, everyone: To help celebrate International Women’s Day (which is tomorrow, March 8), McDonald’s, the fast-food behemoth with a $97.72 billion global valuation, has solved gender inequality by futzing with its logo. A Lynwood, California location of the chain is now sporting a “W” atop its restaurant sign instead of the usual double-arches “M” in a “celebration of women everywhere,” as a spokesperson told Business Insider.
The stunt isn’t the work of one franchisee. According to BI, it’s part of a larger corporate push to acknowledge how “women play invaluable roles at all levels“ of the company: Tomorrow, McDonald’s social media accounts will also feature the upside-down logo, and Women’s Day “packaging, crew shirts and hats, and bag stuffers” will be on-hand at 100 locations nationwide.
Which would be all well and good, if McDonald’s hadn’t been accused of “ignoring” allegations of sexual harassment in 2016. And if the company, which took in $698.7 million in net income during the final quarter of 2017, wasn’t actively fighting against paying its employees — the majority of whom are likely women — a living wage.
According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2015, “combined food preparation and serving workers,” a designation that includes fast-food employees, is the lowest-paid occupation for women in the U.S. Average earnings for women in the “food prep” workforce were $380 per week, with women accounting for 63.4 percent of those employees. In 2015, a study by the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that more than 50 percent of full-time fast-food employees had to rely on some form of government assistance due to “poverty-level” wages.
But McDonald’s, which considers its women employees “invaluable” and whose CEO made a $1.26 million base salary in 2016, has filed lawsuits against cities attempting to increase minimum wages at the local level. Unsurprisingly, it has not been supportive of Fight for $15, the growing movement for a $15 per hour minimum wage that sees many of its own employees in the organizing ranks. (The average McDonald’s cashier, according to data culled by Eater in 2017, makes $17,000 a year.) McDonald’s and its franchise owners have also been accused of violating Fair Wage Standards; in 2016, it paid a $3.75 million settlement to employees in California after being sued for wage theft.
In the courts, McDonald’s is also fighting against the “joint employer ruling,” which would hold the mega-corporation liable for labor violations and standards applied to their franchisees. And while “biological mothers” are eligible to receive 12 weeks of maternity leave (at 50 percent pay), fathers and adoptive parents working at McD’s receive no paid family leave.
So in order to celebrate the fact that McDonald’s CEO made 74 times as much as the company’s lowest-paid worker, who’s statistically likely to be a woman, the brand will give out a few t-shirts and invert its infamous “Golden Arches.” Cool.