30/01/2018 10:23 GMT | Updated 06/02/2018 15:12 GMT

BBC Audit Finds Biggest Pay Gap Among Hundreds Of Lower-Profile Broadcasters

Broadcaster reveals it will make substantial pay cuts for some men.

• Report finds no “evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making”.

BBC says findings will result in “substantial pay cuts” for some men.

• Some male and female presenters will get pay rises. 

• Pay gap among 824 staff was 6.8%. The national average is 18%

• 12.6% pay gap among the 656 lower-profile broadcast journalists.

• “Slightly higher percentage” of men among top half of earners.

• Women “significantly underrepresented” in some roles.

An audit of the BBC’s pay and diversity of presenters, correspondents and on-air talent has found “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making” but warned of sizeable salary gap between lower-profile broadcasters.

The report into the pay of 824 on-air journalists, conducted by auditors PwC, said there was a “lack of clarity and openness” about how the BBC reached decisions on pay.

It found a 12.6% pay gap existed among the 656 lower-profile broadcast journalists in the group and revealed it will make substantial salary cuts for some men.

It identified a number of issues in relation to pay “which have resulted in anomalies” that auditors said need addressing.

The BBC said the findings would mean “substantial pay cuts” for some men and increases for “some” male and female presenters. 

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An audit has found no evidence of 'gender bias in pay decision-making' at the BBC (stock image)

It found there was a “slightly higher percentage” of men among the top half of pay.

“We have found that the BBC has a set of pay arrangements for this group which lack a consistent evaluation and governance framework,” PwC said. 

“This is not uncommon for a highly skilled and diverse group of this type, but it falls below the high standards that the BBC sets for itself and which the licence fee paying public expect.”

The BBC has identified 188 journalists, 98 women and 90 men, who are to receive pay increases.

The report also notes women are “significantly underrepresented” in some roles such as correspondents, where the pay gap is 7.5%.

The BBC admitted the range of salaries of the higher profile 168 journalists a the corporation is “much too wide”: “The pay at the top is too high; and, at the very top of the range, there are more men than women,” it admitted. 

The corporation pledges narrower pay bands; much simpler contracts and allowances and clear criteria for how pay reflects skills, experience and audience impact’ in bid to close the gender pay gap by 2020.

The RwC report made a number of recommendations including establishing a clear pay framework, narrowing pay ranges, simplifying contracts and allowances and improving transparency.

The BBC says it will now “consult our presenters on this to help ensure we get it right” and has set out a five-point plan to help create “fairer and more equal conditions”.

The broadcaster said it has addressed close to half of the 230 cases “raised by of pay unfairness and equality by women and men - on and off air. We aim to conclude the rest by the summer.”

Director-General Tony Hall said today: “The BBC believes in equality. No one should be paid differently because of their gender. The BBC has a special role representing Britain. That is why we need to be and want to be an exemplar on gender pay, and equal pay.

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BBC director-general Lord Hall acknowledged the corporation has 'real and important issues to tackle

“Today’s report does not find evidence of gender bias in decision-making, but it shows that we have real and important issues to tackle, particularly in some areas of news and current affairs, and I’m determined to get it right. The plans we’re setting out today go further and are more important steps in modernising the BBC and making it fairer.

“We’ve already made an important start. We’re addressing unfairness in individuals’ pay and want to close the gender pay gap and have women in half of our on-air roles by 2020. Those are big, bold commitments I’m really serious about.

“We are clear we’re going to tackle this and change for the better, and I hope other organisations take the same approach. The BBC can and must lead the way. I am determined that we will.” 

PwC’s recommendations are:

  • proposing a grading structure for the on-air group; using narrow pay ranges;
  • addressing outliers both above and below the pay ranges; publishing pay ranges;
  • reviewing the current approach to contracting; simplifying allowances;
  • creating an on-air talent team to help manage the governance for this population;
  • conducting regular reviews; reporting regularly; and continuing to improve diverse representation.

In a statement on Tuesday the BBC pointed out that, in October, it published an equal pay audit of around 18,000 staff which concluded there was no systemic discrimination against women at the corporation. Additionally, it also published “our audited gender pay gap report”, which showed the gender pay gap is 9.3% against a national average of 18.1%.

“At the same time we set out a range of actions we were taking including access for staff to specialist advice if people have questions about pay, ensuring managers review pay in their team every six months to ensure fairness, and ending single-sex panels for job interviews, as well as striving for diverse shortlists for jobs,” the corporation said. 

The findings were released on Tuesday as evidence submitted to the Digital, Culture and Sport Committee by 170 BBC women, claiming a “longstanding breach of trust, transparency and accountability”, were released, and as the corporation proposed a £320,000 cap on its news presenters’ salaries.

“BBC Women are very concerned that this publicly funded body is perpetuating a longstanding breach of its stated values of trust, transparency and accountability,” the evidence reads.

“We believe the BBC must put these matters right by admitting the problem, apologising and setting in place an equal, fair and transparent pay structure.”

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Carrie Gracie resigned as the BBC's China Editor over unequal pay

Other evidence highlighted how some women had faced “veiled threats” while trying to get equal pay, and how one presenter was told, “the BBC doesn’t do equal pay” and that in raising it, she was being “aggressive”.

BBC Head of News Fran Unsworth defended the corporation today, saying,: “Anyone can speak out about how they feel about what they’re paid compared to the person sitting next to them ... If there have been veiled threats.. I don’t know how much is historic, If any of that is current it needs to be raised’.

The audit findings also come as Lord Hall is set to be questioned by MPs over the broadcaster’s pay culture on Wednesday which has raged since last summer when the corporation published its salaries for on-air staff earning more than £150,000.

BBC journalist Carrie Gracie, who resigned in protest over the pay gap, is also due to give evidence to the committee tomorrow. 

Reaction to the report has been largely negative, with various interest groups criticising it for not reflecting “reality”.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the claim that there is no evidence of gender bias in pay decision making at the BBC “flies in the face of [the] reality our members say they are experiencing”.

“Unless the BBC stops denying there is a problem, our members will not be convinced it intends to fix it, ” NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said. 

The report highlighted a “serious lack of oversight” regarding pay at the BBC “with unchecked managerial discretion that the NUJ believes has been a significant factor in allowing a discriminatory pay culture to flourish”, she said. 

The NUJ said it would support equal pay claims, through legal action, if “sensible and fair resolutions are not reached”.

“Its claim that there is no evidence of gender bias in pay decision making flies in the face of reality our members say they are experiencing. Unless the BBC stops denying there is a problem, our members will not be convinced it intends to fix it,” Stanistreet said. 

“Having a transparent structure with clear job rates is vital to ensure that unequal pay is eradicated at our public service broadcaster. Right now, however, rebuilding trust amongst women who feel rightly angered and betrayed at their treatment is the BBC’s key challenge – that means taking responsibility and committing to righting past wrongs, and having pragmatic discussions about how to remedy the historic losses women have accrued.”

The Women’s Equality Party echoed the NUJ comments, and accused the broadcaster of casting “cases of unequal pay as ‘anomalies’ and ‘pay unfairness’”, which it said showed it is “yet to take responsibility for the problem”. 

“Today’s report failed to win the confidence of staff because it was set up by the BBC, for the BBC, it did not consult employees properly and, by the BBC’s own admission, it did not include ‘substantive involvement’ from the independent QC,” a spokesperson said. 

The Women’s Equality Party claimed the BBC was continuing to “obfuscate unequal pay by separating out different sections of staff in its pay reports – and that ‘divide and rule’ tactic was on show again today by the fact that top earners will be excluded from the proposed new pay framework”.

The party spokesperson went on to say that the issue is far more widespread than the BBC and if the corporation “does not demonstrate – rather than just state – an unequivocal commitment to equal pay” others employers will also sidestep responsibility. 

The party called on Ofcom to investigate.

The BBC pledged: 

  • Substantial pay cuts for some men and increases for some male and female presenters - prominent men in BBC News have already accepted pay cuts. We have already addressed close to half of the 230 cases raised of pay unfairness and equality by women and men - on and off air. We aim to conclude the rest by the summer.

  • A new on-air framework for determining the pay of people on air - an equal, fair and transparent structure for the future. We will have narrower pay bands because they have become too wide; cut the number of contracts and allowances to be simpler and fairer; and have clear criteria for how pay reflects skills, experience and audience impact. We will fully consult on this to make sure we get it right. 

  • Greater pay transparency - we aim to be the most transparent organisation when it comes to pay. When our reforms are complete, everyone will be able to see the pay range for virtually every job in the BBC. Where there are more than 20 people in a job, staff will also be able to see where everyone else is positioned. We will do more to explain the pay of each presenter paid over £150,000, especially where they do more than one role. 

  • Review of career progression and working practices for women - we will look at what more we can do to make the BBC a better place for women to work. We already, for example, allow and encourage job shares and other flexible forms of working. We will review what we do to ensure we have the best in class processes and opportunities. We want to help more women progress more quickly at the BBC.

  • We will also accelerate our work to achieve 50:50 representation across the BBC by 2020. Through the year we will continue to make changes to our on-air line-ups at a faster rate.