January 19, 2018

NUJ backs BBC's Carrie Gracie over equal pay allegations

10 January 2018, 01:25 | Austin Hogan

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Carrie Gracie is making a bold stand by choosing to quit her job and draw attention to the BBC's pay discrepancies.

Speaking in December, the Guildford MP and Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women said, "Despite the Equal Pay Act being passed almost 50 years ago, too many women are still held back in their careers".

Frostrup addressed the elephant in the room, however, by taking a dig at Humphrys's salary of more than £600,000, which was revealed previous year.

The list published past year showed that two-thirds of the BBC's highest earners were men, with the highest-paid woman earning less than a quarter of the highest-earning male star. Gracie discovered that the editors for North America and the Middle East (both of whom are men) were earning significantly more than she was.

U.S. editor, Jon Sopel, earned AU$345,663 - $432,077 (£200,000-£249,999), while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned AU$259,231-345,551 (£150,000-£199,999). Carrie Gracie did not feature on the list, meaning her salary was less than £150,000.

"It said there were differences between roles which justified the pay gap, but it has refused to explain these differences", Gracie said.

Carrie Gracie described the BBC as "an indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work".

I told my bosses the only acceptable resolution would be for all the global editors to be paid the same amount. She said she would be returning to the newsroom in London.

She wrote: "This is a letter to everyone who loves and values the BBC from one of its finest journalists".

"I am not asking for more money". I believe I am very well paid already - especially as someone working for a publicly funded organization. "Nor could I stay silent and watch the BBC perpetuate a failing pay structure by discriminating against women".

Carrie gracie gender pay gap
By Joi Ito from Cambridge MA USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Miss Gracie, who is fluent in Mandarin, said she rejected the £45,000 pay rise as she would not "collude in unlawful pay discrimination". Four years ago, the BBC urged me to take the newly created post of China Editor.

I knew the job would demand sacrifices and resilience.

Carrie Gracie announced that she was refusing a pay increase offered by managers because it would still leave her being paid less than male co-workers in similar jobs.

It called for urgent changes to the BBC's culture, which she said routinely led women to be paid less than their male colleagues.

Now, though I don't wholeheartedly agree with these arguments, I do believe they are valid and are worth thinking about when discussing the gender pay gap.

"For BBC women this is not just a matter of one year's salary or two". Often women from ethnic minorities suffer wider pay gaps than the rest.

Her decision comes a week after Iceland became the first country to force employers to prove they are paying women the same as men, and follows decades of equal pay laws around the world that have done little to narrow the pay gap.

The BBC has been accused by MPs of "suppressing coverage" of the equal pay scandal by taking female presenters who have expressed an opinion off air.

Labour's Stella Creasy asked Matt Hancock, the new culture secretary, whether he would use his powers to ensure that "every member of staff at the BBC - male or female - is able to exercise freedom of expression at work, and protect their right to speak".

"Since turning down an unequal pay rise, I have been subjected to a dismayingly incompetent and undermining grievance process which still has no outcome", she added.

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