People Like Us calls out ethnicity pay gap by spotlighting ‘autocorrect bias’

Diversity and inclusion charity People Like Us has this week unveiled a new integrated campaign to challenge Britain’s ethnicity pay gap.

By highlighting the autocorrect bias that affects BAME names using real-life examples, People Like Us is hoping to address what it calls ‘established inequity’ in the work place by campaigning for the introduction of mandatory pay gap reporting between ethnicities.

Created in partnership with independent creative agency, Worth Your While, the work was commissioned after research revealed that BAME workers are paid on average only 84% of what their white colleagues earn.

“The problem with these types of clunky, and often, offensive autocorrections is that it perpetuates the myth that non-Anglophone names are foreign and difficult to pronounce,” People Like Us co-founder, Sheeraz Gulsher said.

“It reinforces a homogenous culture that excludes individuals with diverse backgrounds and undermines the efforts of organizations to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Anyone with a diverse name can give you examples of it. Ayan becomes Alan, Rishi becomes Rich and so on.

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He continued: “And if your name gets auto-corrected by default, your salary might also default to the national average of 16% less – a reality experienced by people of ethnically diverse backgrounds.”

Rolling out across out-of-home, PR and influencer media, the campaign has already received celebrity backing from London mayor Sadiq Khan, the capital’s first-ever minority ethnic mayor.

Worth Your While creative director, Tim Pashen added: “Autocorrect is a set of defaults designed to help users communicate seamlessly, but this comes at the expense of others, contributing to a devaluation of those with diverse names.

“Considering it’s built into the tech working professionals use to communicate, this felt like a rich tension to explore when it comes to highlighting the ethnicity pay gap, experienced by UK working professionals from diverse backgrounds.”

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