BBC urged to address gender pay cases as audit finds no systemic discrimination

20 October 2017 9:00PM

The BBC has been urged to ensure it addresses "swiftly and properly" claims by women who believe they have been discriminated against when it comes to pay.

Presenter Mishal Husain and Today colleague Sarah Montague were among those to tweet a statement from the BBC Women group after a review was published into wage disparities at the corporation.

The audit found the gender pay gap across the firm is just over 9% - half the national average - and there is no "systemic" gender discrimination in the organisation.

A response shared online by some of the BBC's top female staff said: "The BBC needs to show that from now on individual cases brought forward by women, or any colleagues with reason to believe they have been discriminated against, will be swiftly and properly addressed.

"Since unequal pay was first revealed at the BBC in July we have seen too many examples of disparities, some of them in place for many years, which should be urgently rectified by BBC managers.

"We support the work being done by the NUJ, Bectu and Unite in pursuit of fairness and equality and will continue to operate as a network for women across the BBC to share information and support."

Figures published earlier this year showed male presenters John Humphrys and Nick Robinson are paid more than £600,000 and £250,000 respectively, with the top-earning female presenter Husain paid more than £200,000.

Montague was the only Today presenter not to appear on the list of highly paid staff.

The corporation ordered reviews into equal pay following the furore over its star salaries this summer.

Director-General Tony Hall commissioned a report on the gender pay gap among staff and a separate audit covering other aspects of equal pay.

Female BBC presenters demanded changes before the end of the year.

The audit was overseen by former Appeal Court judge Sir Patrick Elias, and carried out by consultancy firm PwC and legal firm Eversheds.

Sir Patrick said: "The conclusion in the report that there is no systemic discrimination against women in the BBC's pay arrangements for these staff is, in my judgment, amply borne out by the statistical evidence and is further supported by the analysis of particular cases carried out by Eversheds."

A separate review into the BBC's approach to on-air presenters, editors and correspondents, who are engaged on a variety of different contracts, will conclude by the end of the year.

The BBC said it was not complacent and set out a range of actions, including improving transparency on how pay is set, 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.

Lord Hall said: "Fairness in pay is vital. We have pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020 and have targets for equality and diversity on our airwaves. We have done a lot already, but we have more to do.

"While today's reports show that we are in a better place than many organisations, I want a BBC that is an exemplar not just in the media but in the country - when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation - and what can be achieved.

"This is an essential part of modernising the BBC. And, if the BBC is to truly reflect the public it serves, then the make-up of our staff must reflect them."

Gerry Morrissey, leader of technicians' union Bectu, said the findings confirmed what the union had been saying about the lack of transparency over pay.

"We need to know if women sitting alongside men have the same pay and pay progression, which is not necessarily the case at the moment," he told the Press Association.

"This cannot be swept under the carpet any longer. We have been pressing for action for years but it has fallen on deaf ears."

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said the gender pay gap was still too big, adding: "The BBC, as a public body, should lead the way on fairness and transparency in pay and conditions." 

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