For International Women’s Day, McDonald’s is flipping its totemic “M” upside down. That’s right. It’s gonna be a “W,” for women—or McWomen, if you prefer. McDonald’s spokesperson Laura Altmin explained to CNBC:
“We have a long history of supporting women in the workplace, giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed,” says Altmin. “In the U.S. we take pride in our diversity and we are proud to share that today, six out of 10 restaurant managers are women.”
This sounds lovely. It would be even lovelier, however, if the chain actually paid workers a living wage. It has resisted, except in states and municipalities that have forced its hand by passing laws raising the minimum wage. McDonald’s workers have, like other fast food workers, occupied the forefront of the Fight for 15 movement. Those workers are disproportionately more likely to be women of color, and many also live on food stamps.
Here, former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi complains about minimum wage hikes:
The negative impacts of these minimum wage hikes will be greatest in economically disadvantaged areas, where small businesses more often lack the profit margins necessary to cover the associated labor cost increases, and jobseekers lack the skills commensurate with the new wage floor. In other words, minimum wage increases reduce jobs where they’re needed most.
So far, research doesn’t bear out Rensi’s fears. McDonald’s can flip all the “Ms” it wants, but if it really wants to honor women, it can start with paying them fairly for their labor.