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Newsquest fails to say how it will close its gender pay gap

29 March 2018

Newsquest, the UK's second largest regional news publisher, has put out figures for its gender pay gap, but, unlike its rivals and most media companies, has not provided a company-wide figure, nor has it commented on how it will close the pay differential between the sexes on its staff.

This reluctance for transparency and explanation has led the National Union of Journalists to conclude the publisher is not taking seriously the problem of having too few women in top-paying jobs. This is reflected in the composition of Newsquest's leadership team; 13 are men and two are women.

On its website it has given the figures for: Newsquest Media Group; Newsquest Midlands South; Newsquest (Herald and Times) Ltd and North Wales Newspapers.

Newsquest Media Group, which has the bulk of employees in the group and includes those working on the Northern Echo, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, Bolton News and Lancashire Telegraph, reports that women are paid 12 per cent less on average than men. It shows that women make up the majority (55 per cent) of the lowest paid jobs and 52 per cent of the next lowest.

Although the group decided to submit the gender pay gap results for three of its subsidiaries on the government website earlier this month, it has chosen to publish them as required on its own website right up against the April 5 deadline set by the government to do so. This now includes the North Wales Newspapers figures which are not (as of 29 March) on the government website.

Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ coordinator, said:

“It is disappointing that while Newsquest boasts of itself as being one of the largest regional news publishers in the UK, it is the most timid and shy in reporting the pay gap between men and women in the industry. As such a large company, it has a greater responsibility to act not just on the very line of the law, but to show leadership and moral fibre in tackling the indefensible injustice of the pay gap that has blighted Britain’s workplaces for generations. Its newspapers and news websites happily report on the pay gap of other companies, but I have yet to see Newsquest itself put under the microscope in the same way.

“And while Newsquest has omitted – unlike its rivals - to provide an overall group-wide snapshot of its gender pay gap, even more importantly, it remains mute on what it intends to do about the gap in pay between the sexes. On the figures it has supplied, Newsquest companies do not appear to have the biggest gaps, but other companies have publicly acknowledged they have a problem with too few women in the top jobs and said what they intend to do about it. The silence from Newsquest on this is deafening – as it is in relation to the poverty pay for so many Newsquest journalists while senior directors are lavished with massive pay packages and golden share options.”

At Trinity Mirror, women earned 18 per cent less than men on average, with 69 per cent of the top-paid workers being men. But at its national titles, the gap was wider, 17.8 per cent (mean) and 20.7 per cent (median) with 76 per cent of the top pay quartile being occupied by men. There was a smaller median pay gap of 7.1 per cent at Local World, 100 regional print titles bought by Trinity Mirror in 2015. Trinity Mirror said it had launched a Women in Trinity Mirror Group Forum to discuss the issues and had set a target for senior positions of having no all-male shortlists.

At Johnston Press, women’s mean hourly rate was 15.1 per cent lower than men’s; that is women earn 85p for every £1 that men earn (median gap, 13.9 per cent). Two-thirds of those in the top quartile for pay are men. Ashley Highfield, chief executive officer said as part of the company's report:  "Of our 30 editors, 13 are female and 17 are male. However, we can do much better and I want us to be better." He pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender balance in the senior leadership team within five years.

The NUJ is working with chapels and media organisations to put in place policies to combat the gender pay gap and is encouraging members to carry out their own pay audits to find out how pay is distributed across staff, including by age, ethnicity, length of service and their access to flexible working.

Any organisation with 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of men and women, expressed relative to men’s earnings.  Employers must publish their gender pay gap data and a written statement on their public-facing website and report their data to government online - using the gender pay gap reporting service.

For more information go to the NUJ's campaign page