No Unlawful Pay Discrimination at the BBC? A Finding Is Quickly Disputed


“It is easy to see why trust between some women at the BBC and the organization has broken down,” said Caroline Waters, interim chair of the commission. “Many women felt their voices were not being heard and have been left feeling confused as to how decisions about their pay have been made. This took a heavy emotional toll on those involved in the process, and the strength of feeling of women at the BBC should not be understated.”

The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, said that while commission had found no unlawful pay discrimination, the broadcaster would have to work harder. “The BBC has made a series of wide-reaching reforms which have significantly improved the coherence, consistency and transparency of its pay systems,” Mr. Davie said in a statement.

While acknowledging past blunders, Mr. Davie said “the reforms have reduced the risk of pay discrimination considerably.” He said the broadcaster will conduct regular pay audits, improve technology used for pay comparisons and review job pay ranges.

The row began in 2017 after the Conservative government forced the BBC to publish a list of its highest-paid entertainers and journalists earning over £150,000, or about $204,000, annually. Only one-third were women; even fewer were Black, Asian, or members of another minority group.

The data produced broad criticism, and the broadcaster responded by cutting the salaries of several prominent male journalists. But the list released the following year was still gloomy for women: In 2018, only two women ranked among the BBC’s 20 highest-paid stars.

That year, Ms. Gracie, then a senior journalist and China editor for the BBC, resigned from her post and publicly criticized the broadcaster after discovering that she and other female colleagues had been paid far less than men doing similar jobs. She said the company was operating a “secretive and illegal” salary system. Her cause drew support from other women in the organization

She eventually returned after the BBC apologized and said it would return her backdated wages for the years she was underpaid. Ms. Gracie resigned in August, after 33 years with the BBC, saying she was proud to have “fought for a fair workplace.”





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