BBC Pay Review Criticised After Finding No Gender Bias

The BBC has been under close scrutiny, and on the receiving end of much criticism for the last 12 months regarding its gender pay gap.

It ramped up last summer when figures revealed in a salary report showed male talent was paid much more than their female counterparts. Then, in recent months, the corporation was accused of fostering a “secretive and illegal pay gap” by one of their senior editors.

Under pressure from both employees and external media, Director General Tony Hall announced that the BBC was going to tackle the gender pay gap back in September, beginning with a company-wide investigation. Now the results are in.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Report

Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the review claims there is “no evidence” of gender bias in pay decisions. The accountancy firm did report that it had found, “anomalies that need addressing” with BBC pay, which include paying too much money to a small group of predominantly male stars at the very top of the organisation. Although this is apparently because, “too much weight has been placed on the prominence and profile of certain individuals”.

Rather than gender bias, the report points towards issues such as a lack of clarity and openness at the BBC, as well as financial constraints that have held back the corporation for the last decade. This has lead to younger employees remaining on lower salaries, compared to older generations of stars who had previously negotiated pay rises.

The Backlash

BBC Women, a campaign group representing over 170 of the BBC’s stars and producers, has dismissed the report for not adequately investigating equal pay. According to the Guardian, top male stars such as Graham Norton, Gary Lineker and Chris Evans were excluded from the investigation, for instance.

In a statement to the press the group said, “There’s been no transparency on which individuals were included or why.

“The BBC has chosen who to compare with whom, and what factors justify any gaps in pay. The only mention of equal pay in the letter of engagement with PwC refers to an ‘assessment of equal pay risks’.

“We hope today’s commitment from the director general to put equality at the heart of what the BBC stands for results in swift and meaningful change for women in all roles and at all levels at the organisation.”

A key figure in the BBC Women group, Jane Garvey was far more scathing in her condemnation stating, “The report would say that, wouldn’t it? This is a PwC report commissioned by the BBC and, without being overly cynical, I might venture to suggest that PwC has delivered the report the BBC has asked for.”

In turn the National Union of Journalists, which has also lodged a complaint against the broadcaster, has accused the BBC of, “allowing a discriminatory pay culture to flourish” through a “serious lack of oversight”.

The BBC’s Position

In their commitment to cutting the pay gap, the BBC stated that it has resolved over half of the 230 individual complaints raised so far, and that the rest will be dealt with by the summer.

The corporation has also revealed a 5 step plan to fix the issues PwC found in their report. These include:

  • Pay cuts for both male and female high profile stars
  • New criteria for pay based on skills
  • Publishing the pay range for most jobs at the BBC
  • A review of career progression and working practices for women
  • Accelerating plans to achieve 50/50 representation by 2020

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.”

But will he get it right?

[Tweet “BBC Pay Review Criticised After Finding No Gender Bias”]