BBC China editor Carrie Gracie quits post over pay discrimination: 'Enough is enough', says journo in blog

Carrie Gracie, the China editor for Britain’s public broadcaster the BBC, has resigned from her post in Beijing due to pay disparities with her male colleagues. In an open letter, posted on her blog, Gracie — a China specialist who is fluent in Mandarin — said "the BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure."

BBC journalist Carrie Gracie. Image courtesy: Twitter/@BBCCarrie

BBC journalist Carrie Gracie. Image courtesy: Twitter/@BBCCarrie

The BBC has come under fire recently for paying male employees more and has pledged to close the gender gap by 2020.

In July, it revealed as part of a funding settlement with the government that it paid its then top male star five times more than its best-paid female presenter, and that two-thirds of on-air employees earning at least 150,000 pounds ($203,500) were men.

In the letter, Gracie said there was a “crisis of trust” at the broadcaster, where she has worked for 30 years, and that it was “breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure”.

"In the past four years, the BBC has had four international editors - two men and two women. The Equality Act 2010 states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay. But last July I learned that in the previous financial year, the two men earned at least 50% more than the two women.

Despite the BBC’s public insistence that my appointment demonstrated its commitment to gender equality, and despite my own insistence that equality was a condition of taking up the post, my managers had yet again judged that women's work was worth much less than men's."

She said she had since had been offered a pay increase that remained “far short of equality” and left her post in Beijing last week, returning to her former job in the BBC TV newsroom.

"I told my bosses the only acceptable resolution would be for all the international editors to be paid the same amount. The right amount would be for them to decide, and I made clear I wasn't seeking a pay rise, just equal pay. Instead the BBC offered me a big pay rise which remained far short of equality. It said there were differences between roles which justified the pay gap, but it has refused to explain these differences. Since turning down an unequal pay rise, I have been subjected to a dismayingly incompetent and undermining grievance process which still has no outcome.

Enough is enough. The rise of China is one of the biggest stories of our time and one of the hardest to tell."

“The BBC must admit the problem, apologize and set in place an equal, fair and transparent pay structure,” she said, calling for an independent arbitration to settle individual cases at the broadcaster.

The BBC cited a BBC spokeswoman as saying that “fairness in pay” at the corporation is "vital", and that an audit of pay for rank and file staff led by an independent judge found there was “no systemic discrimination against women”. US editor Jon Sopel earned £200,000-£249,999 while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned £150,000-£199,999.

Gracie was not on the list.

Industry support poured in for Gracie after the journalist's open letter went viral on social media.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Jan 08, 2018 12:56 PM

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