If you’re a woman who gets tongue-tied when asking for a raise or is too nervous to even bring up the subject with your boss it’s time to meet this new equal pay chatbot.
She’s your new foul-mouthed best friend on Facebook who can quickly guide you through the practical and professional terrors of asking for more money. She does this exceptionally well because her persona is based on Cindy Gallop, the British advertising consultant and entrepreneur who swears like a sailor and is a pro at dishing out career advice, especially for women.
Behold the chatbot’s introduction: “Let me start by saying that talking about your salary may feel awkward. Jam those feelings down the nearest garbage disposal. You ready to get the money you deserve?”
It’s refreshing real talk for a subject where the advice is often earnest and practical but hardly relatable. The chatbot launched Tuesday to mark Equal Pay Day, the annual occasion where we talk about the fact that the median annual pay for women with full-time, year-round employment is significantly less than what men receive. Overall, women make .80 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Latina and black women, respectively, make .54 and .63 cents.
The bot was conceived of and developed by the ad agency R/GA and is being promoted through a partnership between The Muse (a career site), Ladies Get Paid (a professional community for women), Reply.ai (a company that builds chatbots), and, PayScale (a firm that tracks salary information). Facebook users can find the bot by searching Facebook for “Ask Cindy Gallop” or by using this direct Messenger link.
The bot wastes no time getting to the point. She asks for your employer’s zip code, your job title, and the number of years you’ve been in that position to learn more about your raise prospects. After sharing an average salary specific to your role and location, the bot declares, “Its good to know the facts, but its better to make a shit ton of money.”
It’s hard to argue with her on that point. Then she asks a series of questions designed to prompt answers that you can use in negotiations and make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished.
“Tell me, how are you exceeding expectations?” she asks. When you reply, she comes back with flattery: “Thats great. You’re a boss.” The bot sums up your conversation in handy bullet points that you can take to a manager along with a new salary request. If you want to wait to ask for the raise, you can schedule a reminder. It also lets you explore answers to additional questions about the best time to ask, what to do when a budget is set and which strategies are most successful.
“My favorite [strategy] is, ask yourself WWASWGD? What Would A Straight White Guy Do? Do that,” says the bot. “Alternatively, pick a career hero. What would [blank] do? If its me, you know bloody well what I would do: Prepare, present my reasons, get paid. A lot.”
“It’s extraordinarily powerful how confident [Gallop] is its almost contagious,” says R/GA senior copywriter Kate Carter, who wrote the bot. The goal, she adds, was to simulate a personal and intimate conversation while also translating Gallop’s “unapologetic” approach.
“The tone might be funny in the way its delivered but the information is really important,” says Toni Thompson, head of talent and human resources at The Muse. “It gives people the confidence they need.”
Thompson knows that the bot isn’t capable of tackling the larger forces that can lead to pay inequality, such as bias and hiring practices that disadvantage women. Yet she’s hopeful it will motivate women to advocate for themselves using new tools while also putting social pressure on companies to evaluate whether they routinely pay men more than women for the same work. And though men can’t have the same conversation with the bot, it is designed to educate them about equal pay.
For those worried about security and privacy, the bot doesn’t ask for current salary information. Conversations are hosted by Reply.ai, and while there are no plans to retire her in the near future, when she disappears, those records are designed to as well.
Once you’re finished getting advice from the bot, try saying thanks. She’ll give you articles to peruse and prompts to share the tool on social media, but not before signing off with a pat on the back and an obligatory curse word. Because why not have some irreverent fun when you’re doing something a little scary?
UPDATE: April 4, 2017, 6:56 a.m. PDT This story was updated to include the role of R/GA.
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