Scottish Widows ‘Beat the Gap’ campaign hit by sexist comments on International Women’s Day

Today, Scottish Widows disabled comments on multiple ‘Beat the Gap’ campaign TikToks (which had no prior agreement for comment functionality) after users called for women to “get a better job” and that it’s “not the geezers fault women want children.”

Related topics:  Scottish Widows,  Gender gap
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
8th March 2024
"Our latest data shows that the gender pension gap grows from £100 to almost £100,000 between the ages of 22-65, so the ‘Beat the Gap’ Tool is part of our ongoing work to help more women prepare for a better financial future."
- Spokesperson for Scottish Widows

According to Scottish Widows’ latest ‘Women & Retirement’ report, which surveyed 5,000 adults in the UK aged 22-65 years old, 37% of mothers have left employment and 47% have reduced hours despite 50% of fathers believing they split childcare equally with their partner.

Notably, 11% of mothers stopped working after parental leave compared to just 3% of fathers, while 20% took an extended career break (averaging 2.5 years) after parental leave.

Only 25% of the 2.5mn single mothers in the UK are on track to achieve a minimum lifestyle in retirement compared to 45% of single fathers. This figure has been driven by various factors, including limited childcare which has resulted in 41% of single mothers leaving the workforce, 46% reducing hours, and 51% finding it harder to secure new employment.

“We must recognise the amount of childcare responsibility that falls on single mothers and their huge contribution to society which means they should be protected by policies to limit the impact it has on their careers and pension,” explained Jackie Leiper, Managing Director at Scottish Widows.

Although pension participation rates have improved, roughly 1.4mn women aren’t eligible for automatic enrolment since they earn less than £10k. As such, even with relatively high household incomes, women can’t contribute to their pension.

In response to this report, Scottish Widows launched an industry-first digital tool to help raise awareness and understanding of the gender pension gap. ‘Beat the Gap’ reveals the pension gap an individual will likely experience based on answers to a short survey, alongside a timeline depicting when their income will differ from the average man.   

As well as the ‘Beat the Gap’ digital tool, Scottish Widows worked with several TikTok content creators, including Patricia Bright (@patriciabright), Emma Stephenson (@emmastephensonn), and Coco Sarel (@cocosarel) to promote educational videos on the gender pension gap.

Despite no prior agreement for comment functionality, Emma Stephenson’s TikTok received hundreds of comments calling for women to “get a better job” rather than complain about the non-existent gender gap and that it’s “not the geezers fault women want children.” Today, Scottish Widows disabled comments on both Emma and Patricia Bright’s TikToks after discovering the functionality error.

A Spokesperson for Scottish Widows has said, “We are committed to helping women plan for a secure financial future and have nineteen years of research which is used to help the discussion, shape the agenda, and to lobby for change.

“We launched ‘Beat the Gap’ to help raise awareness and understanding of the gender pension gap and continue encouraging people to engage with their pensions alongside our other videos, calculators, and tools.”

In support of Scottish Widows’ campaign, Emma Thomson, Chair of the Women in Protection Network, said “it’s important for everyone to understand there is a gender pension gap as well as a gender pay gap, so action can be taken to improve this situation […] it’s great to see Scottish Widows highlight this issue, especially to a younger audience, together with providing a tool to help women improve their financial futures.”

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