BBC journalist quits after discovering she earns 50% less than male counterparts

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Journalist Carrie Gracie outside BBC Broadcasting House in London after she turned down a £45,000 rise, describing the offer as a “botched solution” to the problem of unequal pay at the BBC.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

In a powerful open letter to licence-fee payers, a veteran BBC journalist has spoken out against “secretive and illegal” culture of pay inequality at the publicly funded organisation. 

China Editor Carrie Gracie announced her resignation in the letter after discovering she earned 50 percent less than her male counterparts. 

“With great regret, I have left my post as China Editor to speak out publicly on a crisis of trust at the BBC,” wrote Gracie, who’s been a BBC journalist for 30 years. 

“I believe you have a right to know that it [the BBC] is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure,” writes Gracie in the letter. 

She goes on to state that she is not “asking for more money” but that she simply wants “the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally.” 

“On pay, the BBC is not living up to its stated values of trust, honesty and accountability. Salary disclosures the BBC was forced to make six months ago revealed not only unacceptably high pay for top presenters and managers but also an indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work. These revelations damaged the trust of BBC staff. For the first time, women saw hard evidence of what they’d long suspected, that they are not being valued equally.”

Gracie said in the letter that she had refused a significant pay rise as it still left a big pay disparity between her and male international editors. 

In the past four years, the BBC has had four international editors – two men and two women. The Equality Act 2010 states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay. But last July I learned that in the previous financial year, the two men earned at least 50% more than the two women.

Despite the BBC’s public insistence that my appointment demonstrated its commitment to gender equality, and despite my own insistence that equality was a condition of taking up the post, my managers had yet again judged that women’s work was worth much less than men’s.

Gracie said that her story is “just one story of inequality among many” and she hopes those reading it will understand why she felt she had to speak out. 

“To women of any age in any workplace who are confronting pay discrimination, I wish you the solidarity of a strong sisterhood and the support of male colleagues,” Gracie said. 

“It is a century since women first won the right to vote in Britain. Let us honour that brave generation by making this the year we win equal pay,” she continued. 

Gracie’s protest has prompted a huge outpouring of support on social media, with scores of female BBC journalists using the #IStandWithCarrie hashtag to pledge solidarity with the journalist. 

Speaking on BBC Radio Four Today programme, Gracie said the support she’s received has been “very moving.” But, she also said the support shows the “depth of hunger for an equal, fair and transparent pay system.” 

A BBC spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Mashable that an independent judge-led pay audit found “no systemic discrimination against women” at the organisation. 

“Fairness in pay is vital,” the spokesperson continued. “A significant number of organisations have now published their gender pay figures showing that we are performing considerably better than many and are well below the national average.”

The BBC’s audited gender pay gap stands at 9.3 percent compared with the UK national average, 18.1 percent. The BBC has pledged to close its pay gap by 2020.

“There will be more BBC women taking action — some of them legal action,” said Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive in a statement. “It’s important for the corporation to address any unequal pay now.”

Over to you, BBC. 

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