March 8 marks International Women’s Day — a day during which activists, educators and brands use their platforms and voices to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s issues and fight for gender equality.
This year on International Women’s Day, many companies are putting their money where their mouths are by teaming up with female-focused nonprofits and allocating a portion of their proceeds to organizations like the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. Burger King tried to do the same with a new scholarship program for female employees, but the plan backfired spectacularly when the brand decided to announce the initiative with a tweet and advertisement campaign many deemed “sexist.”
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“Women belong in the kitchen,” the official Burger King U.K. account tweeted on March 8. The standalone tweet is controversial for many reasons — but if you click on it, you can see that the brand actually used it to draw in viewers before revealing its new scholarship program.
“If they want to, of course,” the brand added in a tweet responding to the first one. “Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career.”
Burger King seems to have known what it was doing with this controversial tweet. When KFC Gaming, the gaming branch of KFC, urged Burger King U.K. to delete the tweet, the brand responded and said, “Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry?”
Twitter users could think of a few reasons why the company should delete it.
“That tweet was INCREDIBLY tone deaf and not even close to being a bold or progressive statement like you seem to think it was,” one user said. “Especially on International Women’s Day. Women have to fight to be anywhere BUT the kitchen. I’ll be avoiding your chain from now on.”
“Using sexist remarks as bait is a dumb, dumb idea,” another added. “The majority of people aren’t seeing your positive reply. They’re just seeing a sexist comment made by a brand account.”
“I get that you were using this comment as bait for a larger conversation to actually empower women. But listen to all the women telling you that using a sexist comment as bait isn’t cool,” a third wrote. “This was the first tweet I saw on International Woman’s Day.”
Sadly, the ad doesn’t just live online. As one Twitter user pointed out, Burger King also bought a full-page ad in the New York Times to promote its new scholarship — and the “Women belong in the kitchen” line is significantly larger than all of the other text.
According to the ad in the Times, it appears that the chain will be awarding just two $25,000 scholarships to female employees.
“How much more did these ads cost than those scholarships are worth?” one person asked.
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If you want to support women on International Women’s Day, check out these amazing products coupled with charitable components that work to empower women all over the world.
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