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BBC pay report finds 9 per cent gender gap but ‘no systemic discrimination against women’

By Freddy Mayhew

A report into gender pay imbalance at the BBC has concluded there is “no systemic discrimination against women” in its pay arrangements, although women earn 9.3 per cent less on average.

The report has been published alongside an audit of BBC pay, overseen by former Appeal Court judge Sir Patrick Elias and carried out by consultancy firm PWC and legal firm Eversheds.

Elias said: “The conclusion in the report that there is no systemic discrimination against women in the BBC’s pay arrangements for these staff is, in my judgment, amply borne out by the statistical evidence and is further supported by the analysis of particular cases carried out by Eversheds.”

The pay gap review comes after the BBC was forced to publish the salaries of its top-earning on-air talent (those paid more than 150,000) in July, prompting concerns over pay disparity between men and women.

The BBC’s 9.3 per cent median gender pay gap (or 10.7 per cent mean pay gap) compares to a national average of 18.1 per cent, it has said. The BBC also voluntarily audited its BAME (black and minority ethnic) pay gap, which it put at 0.4 per cent.

Today’s published gender pay gap report does not include on-air talent, such as presenters or correspondents. A separate review for these staff is expected to finish by the end of the year.

The audit of nearly 600 BBC staff, covering pay grades two to 11, does not include senior managers or on-air talent because of the nuances in experience and specialisms at higher levels, Press Gazette understands.

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All organisations with more than 250 employees will be required by law to publish an annual gender pay gap. The BBC’s report comes six months early, ahead of the next deadline in April 2018.

A corporation spokesperson said it has also taken action to end single-sex panels for job interviews, ensure staff have access to specialist advice on pay, and that managers review pay every six months in their teams “to ensure fairness”.

Director general, Tony Hall, said: “Fairness in pay is vital. We have pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020 and have targets for equality and diversity on our airwaves.  We have done a lot already, but we have more to do.

“While today’s reports show that we are in a better place than many organisations, I want a BBC that is an exemplar not just in the media but in the country – when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation – and what can be achieved.

“This is an essential part of modernising the BBC. And, if the BBC is to truly reflect the public it serves, then the makeup of our staff must reflect them.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said of the pay gap at the corporation “is still too large”, adding: “The BBC, as a public body, should lead the way on fairness and transparency in pay and conditions.

“We know from the equal pay survey that the NUJ is currently carrying out at the BBC that there is a problem of unequal pay – we are currently reviewing a significant amount of cases brought to us by women members working in a range of roles who believe they are being paid less than male colleagues for similar work or work of equal value.”

She added: “The report notes the lack of transparency caused by management discretion on pay and highlights the need for more women to be promoted to senior jobs in the BBC, roles that are still too often dominated by men.”

The BBC’s performance, set against a range of gender and diversity targets, was reported as follows:

  • 48 per cent of staff are women (2020 target 50 per cent)
  • 42 per cent of leadership are women (2020 target 50 per cent)
  • 5 per cent of staff are BAME (2020 target 15 per cent)
  • 3 per cent leadership are BAME (2020 target 15 per cent)
  • Target for 15 per cent BAME on screen, on air and in lead roles across all genres by 2020
  • 2 per cent staff are disabled (target 8 per cent)
  • 6 per cent leadership are disabled (target 8 per cent)

Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall

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