The BBC has said sorry for underpaying one of its top news correspondents, Carrie Gracie, and settled a dispute that shone a light on gender inequality at the British pubcaster.
Gracie was China editor for the BBC’s news division, a job she took on the assurance from the BBC that she would be paid the same salary as the North America editor, Jon Sopel. However, it emerged later that Gracie was not being paid an equal amount.
“The BBC acknowledges the specific circumstances relating to Carrie’s appointment, apologizes for underpaying Carrie, and has now put this right,” the BBC said in a statement Friday. “Carrie is donating the full amount received to a charity of her choice.”
Gracie had refused a £45,000 ($59,120) raise when the salary disparity with her male colleague came to light, saying what she wanted was equality, not simply more money. She said: “For me, this was always about the principle rather than the money. I’m delighted to donate all the backdated pay from the BBC to help women striving for equality at work.”
Gracie’s case was embarrassing for the BBC, which was taken to task in the press, by the public, and by a government committee looking into gender issues at the world’s premier public broadcaster. Her pay was part of a wider narrative about how the BBC compensates on-air talent, and it has now committed to an initiative, led by its Scotland chief Donalda MacKinnon, to “sweep away any barriers to women progressing.” Gracie will contribute to that effort.
A range of other measures from the BBC include a new framework for setting salaries of on-air presenters and correspondents, and a £320,000 salary cap. The latest figures revealed a 6.8% gap in the earnings of it higher-paid correspondents and news readers, and an overall pay gap of 10.7%.
Gracie will now take six months off from the BBC to write and speak about China and gender equality. She has been a high-profile and outspoken voice in the debate on the BBC’s gender pay gap, but the pubcaster said Friday that neither party would comment further on her personal situation.
“I am pleased that we’ve been able to move past our differences and work through things together; we can now look to the future,” BBC director general Tony Hall said. “I’m also glad that Carrie will be contributing to Donalda MacKinnon’s project to make the BBC a great place for women to work. That really matters to me, and I want us to lead the way.”