K E Y P O I N T S
- Former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie, who publicly resigned over unequal pay at the corporation, gave evidence to Parliamentary culture committee Wednesday afternoon
- She revealed to MPs the BBC offered her tens of thousands of pounds of back pay but insisted her grievance has never been about money
- Gracie instead she wanted “an acknowledgement that my work was of equal value to the men who I served alongside”
- The broadcaster accused the BBC of “belittling” the work of women, saying the episode “makes me desperately anxious for the future of the BBC”
- Former head of news James Harding was accused by Gracie of ignoring inequality claims
- BBC director-general Lord Hall among bosses taking questions from MPs in second session
- The hearing followed an audit of on-air journalists published on Tuesday claiming there was no “evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making”
S N A P V E R D I C T
In what was a powerful, compelling evidence session before MPs on Wednesday, the most moving moment came following Carrie Gracie’s revelation the BBC had offered years of back pay for “inadvertently underpaying” her for four years in the role of China editor.
Gracie, who emphasised her respect for her male peers, insisted that her resignation and protest has never been about the money, saying: “I have said I don’t want any more money. They’re trying to throw money at me to resolve the problem. This will not resolve my problem. My problem will be resolved by an acknowledgement that my work was of equal value to the men who I served alongside as an international editor.”
Gracie’s words cut to the core the problem for the BBC. Her fortitude throughout this controversy, and the strength and solidarity with which BBC Women have spoken out since Gracie’s resignation, prove the issue will not just go away. There is no choice but for Lord Hall and BBC executives to take a contrite, transparent approach to not just fixing the corporation’s pay structure but also ensuring a cultural change which leads women at the BBC to truly believe they are on equal standing with their male colleagues.
Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil had earlier asked the not-entirely-unfair question of whether the row needed to top news bulletins, and indeed “is it really the most important story of the day for the British people”.
Probably not. But the BBC is one of Britain’s proudest, greatest institutions and a beacon for our culture and ideals, and equal pay for equal work one of the pressing issues in our society. The BBC has the chance to help turn the tide on the gender pay gap, and must embrace the opportunity.
Q U O T E O F T H E D A Y
"Our business is truth... If we’re not prepared to look at ourselves honestly, how can we be trusted to look at anything else in our reporting?” - Carrie Gracie
R E A C T I O N
W H A T N E X T ?
The very existence of today’s Parliamentary sessions shows there is a self-evident problem for the BBC to solve on equal pay. So how do they fix it?
The announced pay cuts for men at the top of the league table will be important to watch - although many, argue cutting men’s pay is not the point, asking instead why women’s wages are not instead raised.
However, as Gracie alluded to, it will also be vital to watch how the corporation plans to close the gender pay gap among the common ranks as well, not just the top tier talent.