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What next at UK media companies with highest gender pay gap figures?

The Telegraph is the only news outlet to target a zero gender pay gap across the whole company, but Press Gazette understands there remains “growing anger” among staff over the size of the salary divide.

Telegraph Media Group had the second highest mean gender pay gap in the UK news media, according to Press Gazette’s rankings, at 35 per cent.

The group’s chief executive, Nick Hugh, has set 2025 as the year by which the company must achieve a zero pay gap, saying it “demonstrates where we see the future of The Telegraph”.

Some companies want to reach a zero gender pay gap sooner, but only within higher salary brackets, while others have said they are aiming for total gender parity without publicly setting a deadline.

The Telegraph’s pay gap pledge comes as…

  • The Guardian targets a 50/50 gender balance in the top half of the organisation within five years
  • The Financial Times aims to achieve gender parity across its global leadership by 2022
  • Sky pledges to fill half of its most senior roles with women by 2020
  • ITN aims to reduce its mean gender pay gap of 19.6 per cent by half over the next five years.

Press Gazette understands that at The Telegraph, two town hall-style meetings have already been held for staff to question senior editorial figures over issues that have arisen with publication of the gender pay gap.

The Telegraph pledged to regularly monitor its pay gap going forward, and has already successfully launched improved maternity benefits and coaching to support women before, during and after maternity leave.

It has also begun offering more opportunities for flexible working, while 50/50 gender shortlists were introduced last year for all roles.

However the FT’s NUJ chapel committee has offered its support to Telegraph journalists fighting for change, referencing a “growing anger” among staff at their rival publisher .

The FT itself had the sixth highest mean gender pay gap across the UK news media at 24.4 per cent.

A statement sent by the FT chapel committee to all staff last week, seen by Press Gazette, asked the paper’s journalists to fill out a confidential pay survey “in order to reassure ourselves and others that there is no problem with equal pay”.

Chapel representatives also said their gender pay gap figures, including a median gap of 19.4 per cent, were “worse than had been predicted”, saying they pointed to “an historic problem with gender pay at the FT and in general”.

They requested time with senior FT managers to discuss the possibility of increasing transparency on benchmarking pay, hiring and promotions.

They also gave a list of demands they wanted implemented immediately, including:

  • Equalised shared parental leave between men and women;
  • A review of the salaries of all women returning from maternity leave;
  • An annual increase in trainee starting salaries in line with inflation;
  • And “genuinely flexible and widely available work arrangements and measures to prevent daily workload impinging on domestic life”.

The chapel’s statement also claimed that, placed alongside company data provided in annual pay negotiations, the gender pay gap figures showed the editorial gap has actually been​ ​getting wider over the past six years.

They added: “While we welcome the stated commitment to diversity, fairness and good business practice that accompanied publication of the pay data by the FT, we would like to see this reinforced by specific deadlines and targets aiming to make the 19.4 per cent gap a thing of the past.

“Targeted pay rises and negotiated pay settlements that favour the lower paid can make a difference.”

In its gender pay gap report, the FT said it is developing and implementing plans to improve workplace diversity, including 50/50 shortlists for all hiring and internal recruitment.

John Ridding, the FT’s chief executive, said: “It is clear from the changing composition of our teams that we are moving in the right direction. It is equally clear from our gender pay gap results that we have more work to do.”

An FT women’s WhatsApp group featured much discussion recently, Press Gazette understands, of a Buzzfeed article revealing how female journalists at the likes of ITN are fighting behind the scenes for better pay.

Women at ITN and BBC have also reportedly set up WhatsApp groups to discuss gender pay concerns.

Press Gazette reported last week that ITN chief executive John Hardie will “not receive a penny” in bonus pay unless he hits new gender and diversity targets.

ITN, which encompasses the news teams at ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, reported the media’s highest mean bonus pay gap at 77.2 per cent.

Conde Nast reported the highest mean gender pay gap in UK media at 36.9 per cent but declined to provide further comment for this story beyond the brief statement released with its figures last week.

The statement, signed by Conde Nast Britain chief operating officer Sabine Vandenbroucke and HR director Hazel McIntyre, said: “We recognise that we need to work to reduce the gap in the upper quartile [of earners].

“Our high proportion of female employees means that we already offer many family-friendly policies and have a relatively large number of flexible workers.

“We are developing a number of new initiatives across recruitment, retention, career progression, and mentoring programmes to make progress in reducing our gender pay gap going forward.”

The statement claimed that across three-quarters of the UK business, there is “no evidence of an appreciable gender pay gap”, with the publisher attributing the gap to the senior leadership team, many of whom are “long standing” at the company.

This is despite Conde Nast’s employees being 74 per women across the business as of the snapshot reporting date of 5 April – with the top earners made up of 63 per cent women.

This means the company’s gender pay gap is skewed by the salaries of the men who make up 37 per cent of the top quarter of earners in the business.

The Economist Group, which has the highest median gender pay gap in UK media at 29.5 per cent and fourth highest mean gap at 32.5 per cent, also declined to comment beyond the statement in its report.

In it, chief executive Chris Stibbs said that although the group employs similar numbers of men and women “we need to provide more opportunities for women to progress”.

He said: “We are committed to achieving gender parity across the group and through annual measurement and reporting we will demonstrate improvement.”

The commitments listed in the report include addressing high turnover in lower paid roles with careful recruitment, considering multiple male and female candidates for senior roles and creating better male and female balance in management teams.

“Some teams have achieved this and others have a way to go,” it said.

The report also notes: “While the key challenge is of equal representation of women in senior roles and management teams, this will not be achieved by recruitment and career progression alone.

“We will also reexamine policies and practices, paternity and maternity support, management development, and deploy widely our diversity and inclusion training including understanding unconscious biases.”

A spokesperson for The Economist Group pointed out that Wilmington, publisher of Health Service Journal and Compliance Week, has a higher median gender pay gap of 36.6 per cent and mean pay gap of 49.6 per cent.

Wilmington has fewer than 250 employees in the UK and published its figures voluntarily. Press Gazette made the decision not to include the publisher in its round-up of pay gap figures because of its small size.

Picture: Pixabay

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