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BBC pay gap audit proves why ‘trial by media’ helps no one


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IEA reacts to PwC's review of pay at the BBC

Commenting on the findings of PwC’s pay review at the BBC, Kate Andrews, News Editor at the Institute of Economic Affairs said:

“PwC’s audit of BBC pay has proven what many of us suspected all along – that pay discrepancies within the organisation were not based on gender, nor were they a case of unequal pay for equal work.

“The uproar around BBC pay has been fuelled by the failure to distinguish between ‘unequal pay’ and the ‘gender pay gap’. The former is illegal; the latter – estimated to be 6.8% within the BBC for full time employees – is comprised of countless other factors, including age, job, work experience, career breaks, personality, and education. Once these factors are taken into account, they usually remove questions of gender discrimination all together.

“As a public broadcaster, fully dependent on taxpayers’ money, the BBC is right to consider a cap on the hefty salaries offered for news presenters, clearer frameworks, and more transparency on pay. Responsible spending is of paramount importance, but is a different debate to the one around gender equality.

“In the wake of allegations of discrimination, the BBC has done well to carry out an independent audit of its pay structures. The result today serve as an important reminder that we, the public, do not have access to the private negotiations of employees and employers which dictate salary; as such, and we are in no position to presuppose illegal activity. It also serves as a reminder that if an employee believes they are being discriminated against on the basis of their gender, legal recourse is an option – an avenue that Carrie Gracie chose not to pursue in favour of a press release.

“In the future, we must resist the urge to put organisations on trial in the media, especially over sensitive issues such as the pay gap. It only leads us further into the dark.”

Notes to editors: 

For media enquiries please contact Nerissa Chesterfield, Communications Officer: [email protected] or 0207 799 8920 or 07791 290 268.

In 2017 the IEA released a briefing on the gender pay gap. To read this report, click here.

Further IEA Reading: The Gender Pay Gap Reporting Measures

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems and seeks to provide analysis in order to improve the public understanding of economics.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.