A report published today by PwC has found that there is “no gender bias” regarding pay decisions at the BBC but their approach to pay in general “has been far from perfect”. The report found a 6.8 per cent gender pay gap among on-air staff earning more than £150,000.
The review of 824 on-air pay staff at the BBC claimed there is “no evidence” of gender bias in pay decisions at the broadcaster, despite the equality row that has rocked the organisation since last summer.
The Corporation has been under the spotlight since releasing the salaries of their highest earners, with many high profile female employees voicing their opinions on the inequality exposed.
Earlier this month Carrie Grace quit as China Editor over equal pay and last week six of the leading male presenters agreed to take pay cuts. Many women at the BBC have told MP’s they face ‘veiled threats’ while trying to raise the subject of equal pay, with 150 women putting forward written evidence to a parliamentary committee ahead of a hearing tomorrow.
Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson is an employment law consultant for the ELAS Group. He says:
“The recent publicity surrounding the well documented concerns and issues surrounding the gender pay gap and equal pay issues at the BBC further evidences the importance of ensuring that there are no pay gaps within your organisation.
“Of particular concern is the recent article suggesting that female employees at the BBC have faced threats whilst simply trying to raise the issue of equal pay, which it is their legal right to do. As an employer, if you are approached by a female employee raising an issue of equal pay then it’s important to give this concern your full attention. All employees have a right to be paid the same as a member of the opposite sex for doing the same work. If they aren’t then they will have a valid legal claim which could be particularly costly, and which could result in a public judgment showing that you are in the wrong.
“However this is a wider issue, particularly for larger employers, who are now obliged to publish full salary details publicly. As can be seen from the severe backlash the BBC has received, any pay discrepancies can have a significant detrimental effect on the reputation of your business. Whilst the BBC are now making efforts to remedy the situation, largely through enforced pay cuts for male employees, the damage has already been done.
“There is one simple way to resolve this if you are an employer -by making sure that there is not an issue in the first place.
“It is advisable to conduct regular reviews of salaries and, if you find that there is a discrepancy between a male and female employee who do the same (or similar) job, can you justify it? If not, then something needs to be done about it.”
PwC blamed the results on lack of clarity and openness, and financial constraints in the BBC over the last decade, rather than gender bias.
In response to the report, the BBC said it had already resolved more than half of 230 individual cases raised so far relating to pay equality and would deal with the rest by the summer.
Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC, said:
“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.”
Women at the BBC have already said they have no confidence in the review and that they have been excluded from the process.
In evidence submitted to MPs on the influential DCMS committee ahead of a hearing on Wednesday, the BBC Women campaign group called for an apology, back pay and pension adjustments from the BBC for breaking equality laws