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Eight out of ten women at the BBC believe they are paid less than male counterparts

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10 November 2017

Eight out of ten women at the BBC believe they are paid less than male counterparts

Almost eight out of 10 women journalists at the BBC believe they are paid less than a male colleague doing the same work, similar work or work of equal value, an NUJ survey has found.

Over 78 per cent of respondents to an NUJ survey said they knew or believed that men doing the same or comparative roles got better pay than their female counterparts.

The findings followed the publication by the BBC of the on-air "talent" who earned more than £150,000. The list showed that only a third were women and of the 96 named only 10 were from black or minority ethnic backgrounds.

The pay disparity came as a great shock to many women journalists who suddenly discovered their male counterpart next to them on the sofa, in the studio or newsroom were earning vastly more than them, in some cases with less experience.

The union is now representing over 100 women who work across the BBC in a variety of roles and grades who have an equal pay claim.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today, show that the  gender pay gap for women in their 20s is now five times greater than it was six years ago – leaping from near eradication at 1.1 per cent to 5.5 per cent this year. They also demonstrate that older women still face greater pay discrimination than workers at the start of their career, with women in their 50s paid on average 18.6 per cent less than their male colleagues. With the gap standing at 14.1 per cent, it will take 100 years to close the male-female gap in pay at the current rate of change.

The BBC’s own report of its graded staff, overseen by Sir Patrick Elias, the former Appeal Court judge, concluded that there was "no systemic discrimination against women in the BBC’s pay arrangements".  The report did not include the on-air talent, which is subject to a separate review about to commence and will run until January 2018.

The NUJ survey showed a different picture.

Comments included: "I am the same age as my male colleague, have worked alongside him for 20 years in the same job, but he is paid more than me."

"I know a colleague who does similar work is paid 20 per cent more than me." 

"I believe I am paid less than all the men in my team."

Many others were unable to answer the question, because they did not know how much others in the office earned.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Equal Pay Day is a time to reflect on the inequality in pay between men and women. Men are often paid more than women because of outright discrimination, dated recruitment practices and inflexible working practices which make it difficult for women to juggle work and family life. Then there are the cases where women are not being paid the same even when they are doing the same job as their male colleague.
“We have secured a commitment from the BBC to address the cases that NUJ members have brought forward – we are clear that in the course of pursuing these cases, industrially or through litigation, that we will not tolerate inequality and unequal pay. The BBC has committed to introducing greater transparency and fairness, and their approach to resolving the issues of patently unequal pay in our public service broadcaster will a clear test of this resolve.”
“We know that many other employers in the media industry are also offenders and will be working with our members in workplaces to carry out a series of surveys and studies, making equal pay a key industrial propriety for the NUJ.”

The union has also responded to a review of employment practices and procedures at RTÉ, the Irish broadcaster, by Kieran Mulvey, former head of the Workplace Relations Committee. Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said: “This was a wasted opportunity because of the limited terms of references given to Kieran Mulvey."

Those engaged on self-employed contracts or through external companies were excluded from the review, which resulted in an incomplete picture.

The UK is among the worst performing EU states on improvements to gender equality. Analysis by the TUC showed that the average woman has to wait nearly a fifth of a year before she starts to get paid, compared to the average man. Latest figures showed that the whole workforce gender pay gap is 18.4 per cent; this figure is much wider than the full-time media pay gap of 9.1 per cent, because it includes the two-fifths of female employees who work part-time.

The media industry reflects this sorry trend. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism report, Journalists in the UK, found that more than half of women in the media earned less than £2,400 a month compared with 35 per cent of men – and they were less likely to be promoted than their male colleagues. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations 2017 edition of its State of the Profession revealed a pay inequality gap of £5,784, a modest reduction of £220 on the previous year’s figure.

One reason for the lack of action on the gender gap could be the paucity of women on the boards of media companies. The BBC has 10 men and four women, the proportion at Sky is 11:3, ITV 7:3, ITN 7:1; Channel 4 9:3; Trinity Mirror 6:2, Archant 6:1, Johnston Press 6:1 and Newsquest 13:2.

By April 2018, public, private and voluntary sector organisations with 250 or more employees must publish information about the gender pay gap in their organisation.

The TUC's guide on gender gap reporting, provides useful information and tips for reps in explaining how the new regulations work, how to negotiate using the new reporting regulations and how all workplaces can put in place policies to report pay and combat the gender pay divide.

Even if your employer does not fall within the scope of the regulations (if they have fewer than 250 employees) you can still work with your employer to publish  information about the gender pay gap in their organisations and take steps to address the causes of the gap.

  • Work with your employer to publish a report to accompany the published data which explains the reasons for the gender pay gap in the organisation.
  • Help your employer to develop an action plan which will address the root causes of the gender pay gap in the organisation.
  • Ask for the different gender pay gaps by workforce, by pay grade, job description, in starting salaries, using both the median and the mean, and also to measure the full-time and part-time gaps separately.
  • Unions should put the gender pay gap and equal pay on the bargaining agenda.

Tags: , equal pay day, equality, equal pay, pay, bbc, boards, gender pay gap, gender gap