McDonald's announced it would be flipping its arches in honor of International Women's Day. However, many are calling it an empty gesture.
McDonald's International Women's Day
Credit: McDonald's

It’s International Women’s Day (March 8), and many beloved brands are using the day to convince the women of the world that they have a corporate ally. However, one fast food company is finding out that helping women is actually a lot more difficult than just making a statement. Yesterday, McDonald’s announced that they’d be flipping their iconic golden arches in select restaurants and on social media. According to the company, 6 of out 10 restaurant managers are women, and the flipped arches symbolize a “W” for the women the fast food joint employs and serves.

However, many see the move as an empty gesture, as the company is often criticized for its low wages, poor benefits, and inflexible schedules for its restaurant employees. Those calling BS on McDonald’s swiftly took to Twitter to voice their advice on things the brand could do to more meaningfully help women. First of all, many called on Mickey D’s to raise their minimum wage to a living wage.

Secondly, as Twitter user @mrfeelswildride points out, flipping the arches on McDonald’s restaurants cost money—money that is not going directly to empower women. A better use of that money? Supporting women’s charities or setting up scholarships for workers.

Another viral post by @truebe yesterday pointed out that better health care benefits (or any, for some workers), family leave, and career advancement in an industry that is increasingly being overtaken by automation would also be way more helpful to women than flipping arches. At time of writing, the post received more than 28.6k retweets and 122.3k likes.

McDonald’s isn’t the only employer that still has a ways to go in empowering its female workers and customers—in fact, there are only a small percentage of businesses that provide livable wages, flexible schedules, comprehensive health care, family leave, robust discrimination and harassment policies, as well as other benefits that help provide women opportunities to advance in the workforce and the world. If McDonald’s failed act brought awareness to anything, it’s that creating gender parity is not as easy as flipping a sign, and that we must keep pressing for progress when what we’re handed isn’t enough.