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Bot calls out firms over gender pay gap

British companies posting messages for International Women’s Day are having their gender pay gaps exposed by a Twitter bot, leading some to delete their posts.

Companies such as Ryanair, Barclays and outsourcer Capita, as well as universities and government departments, have been called out by the Gender Pay Gap Bot, which states in its Twitter biography: “Employers, if you tweet about International Women’s Day, I’ll retweet your gender pay gap.”

The cover photograph on the account reads: “Deeds not words. Stop posting platitudes. Start fixing the problem.”

When a firm posts a tweet that contains any International Women’s Day hashtags, the bot automatically responds with its median gender pay gap, which is calculated using openly available data from the government. The worst offenders include Young’s pubs and Ryanair, where women are paid a median of 73.2 and 68.6 per cent less than men, respectively.

Other British organisations mentioned are travel group Tui UK, with a gap of 41.7 per cent; the government agency Innovate UK, with a pay gap of 36 per cent; Barclays Bank with 34.5 per cent; and Capita at 33.2 per cent.

Some companies outed by the bot use messages of female empowerment in their marketing, including the fashion retailer Missguided, which pays women 40 per cent less than men. HM Revenue & Customs, the Department for Environment and the House of Lords – with pay gaps of 8.8, 6.8 and 5.1 per cent – were also exposed by the bot, whose data caused many organisations, such as Innovate UK, HMRC and Exeter University, to delete their initial posts — with many reposting later in the day.

Innovate UK’s now-deleted post also spotlighted “38 inspiring women and their ideas”, yet featured a photo of its chief executive, Indro Mukerjee, who is a man.

While many companies fell short of expectations, a handful did pay employees equally. Those leading the way include the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, St John’s Ambulance and Registers of Scotland.

The London Fire Brigade even pays women 2.7 per cent more than men.

The account was created last year by social media manager Francesca Lawson and software developer Ali Fensome.