BBC accused of 'belittling' women over equal pay row

Gladys Abbott
February 3, 2018

The auditors found a 6.8 percent pay gap between men and women but reported that there was "no gender bias" regarding pay decisions.

The report led to China Editor Carrie Gracie resigning in protest upon which she called out the "secretive and illegal pay culture", which she detailed in an open letter published in the Times.

The BBC have reportedly offered to pay her £100,000 in back pay after the inequality came to light.

Ms Gracie also hit out at the results of her grievance hearing, saying the notes handed to her were a "disgraceful nine pages of errors and spin". "I thought I had won a commitment to pay parity when I set off to China which is why I got such a shock when I discovered that two men as worldwide editors were being paid at least 50% more than the two women global editors".

"It is unacceptable to talk to your senior women like that", the 55-year-old told members of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

She said at the end of the process the BBC agreed to increase her salary and pay her for money she had missed out on in previous years, but said: "I have said I don't want that money".

"Carrie Gracie and Michelle Stanistreet's powerful testimony today portrayed a BBC with broken pay and employment practices that has produced an unacceptable atmosphere of distrust and grievance".

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The BBC said it will take action that involves substantial pay cuts for some men, and pay rises for some men and women.

In her evidence she accused the BBC's head of news, Fran Unsworth, of misleading her over her salary in comparison to male counterparts.

She previously revealed that she would work for the BBC in the United Kingdom after refusing a £45,000 rise a year ago to boost her £135,000 salary. Subsequently what happened, and I moved into a different job and there was a new head of news gathering, and then Jon Sopel was appointed to the job of North America editor, and Jon Sopel obviously came with a different pay history.

Gracie highlighted the difficulties of covering China, particularly because of press freedom issues in the country, and was told that she would be paid a similar amount to the North American editor, which later turned out not to be true.

"BBC management need to stop treating us as some kind of enemy", she said. "This report has reached the conclusion the BBC wanted it to reach", said Jane Garvey, one of the broadcaster's leading presenters. "I really feel really angry about some of the things I've seen and heard and some of the women, the suffering they've been through".

"At the time that we set Carrie's pay, in that role there was no issue around gender at all".

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